Butterflies aren’t only beautiful, they’re beneficial. They do a wide range of environmental good, including pollination, natural pest control, and as a food source for birds and other insect-eaters. You can learn more at an engaging event.

By Peg Cameron Gill

The fascinating fliers we know as butterflies will be the stars of the show at a free Butterfly Festival June 17 at MU Extension’s Jefferson Farm & Garden in Columbia. The festival is also hosted by Missouri Master Gardeners, and will last from 10 AM–4 PM.

Come encounter native Missouri butterflies in an enclosed habitat. You’ll learn about their life cycle and behaviors, and take a walking tour of Jefferson’s pollinator field to see the native plants which pollinators favor. (And get inspiration for your own butterfly garden!)

There will be kids’ crafts, face painting, barn animals, and food trucks at the festival, too. And absorb plenty of pollinator information. For instance:

Butterflies and moths are a sign of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems.They indicate that a wide range of other invertebrates are present. So areas rich in butterflies and moths are rich in other invertebrates, as well—integral to a healthy habitat for birds and other insectivorous residents.

Along with moths, butterflies support a range of other predators and parasites, many of which are specific to individual species, or groups of species. The winged wonders have been widely used by ecologists as model organisms to study the impact of habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change.

Butterflies not only make for a healthier environment, but also for healthier humans! People enjoy seeing them both around their homes and out in rural areas. Their often vibrant colors remind us of the beauty of nature, inspire awe and appreciation—which can have a calming effect. If you’re lucky enough to have a butterfly land on you, it can cause a tickling sensation that brings a smile and even a little laugh.

Sadly, according to ButterflyConservation.org, four different species of butterfly have become extinct over the last 150 years. All the more reason to attend this fun and informative festival and learn more about their important role and the steps we can take to preserve them.

For another article on how you can help preserve and attract butterflies, click here.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.