Butterflies spread their wings in the River Wards

Greensgrow Farms partners with Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion for butterfly release

A monarch butterfly makes itself at home among plants at Greensgrow after butterfly release. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

What caught David Prendergast’s eye when he drove down Frankford Avenue was the large butterfly mural on the side of the building housing the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion.
The farm manager at Greensgrow Farms decided to inquire about acquiring 10 chrysalises from the recently transformed, longtime business.
“We have a strong native pollinator program here at Greensgrow and we wanted to help pollinate with butterflies,” Prendergast said.

MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

Greensgrow was in luck.
After bringing the chrysalises back to the urban farm, local children were invited to watch their transformation over the course of a few days until butterflies emerged and were released.
The Insectarium suggested co-hosting a butterfly release event to have more people from the community come out.
That event took place on Saturday, July 15 at Greensgrow Farms.
Staff from the Insectarium facilitated a release at 11:30 a.m. and spoke about the migration behavior of butterflies.
Greensgrow staff led another release at 1:30 p.m.
Children were eager to participate.
Nicholas Riggio, 5, nicknamed “the professor” at the event for his knowledge of butterflies came from Mt. Laurel, N.J., because he is “absolutely obsessed with butterflies and insects.”

Nicknamed “The Professor” during the butterfly release by staff at Greensgrow for his inquisitive nature, Nicholas Riggio, 5, examines a catepillar. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

After the releases, butterflies, including monarchs, could be seen busy finding a home among the flowers at the farm.
Prendergast offered some tips for those looking to attract butterflies to their own backyards.
“You want to pick native, perennial, flowering plants,” he said. “and any with a tubular or trumpet shape are good for butterflies.”
Some good choices are goldenrod, milkweed, butterfly weed, butterfly bushes and coneflowers, according to Prendergast.
If you’re as lucky as some of the kids who stopped at Greensgrow — and have some sugar water on hand — you might be able to lure one to perch on your hand.

One lucky child at the butterfly release receives a “butterfly kiss” before the butterfly took flight. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO