Butterfly weed is blooming; butterflies are on the way

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 5, 2019

SALISBURY — Hurley Park is a wonderful garden area where we can have the best of both worlds, creating a peaceful oasis while also hosting a bevy of educational events.

One of our most popular events is the Butterfly Release. The reason I have been thinking about this event is that one of my all-time favorites, the Asclepias tuberosa or butterfly weed is currently blooming.

It is has beautiful, small reddish-orange flowers arranged in large clusters with deep green petals. This plant used to be spotted on many country roadsides, but due to urban encroachment and development, the plant is no longer as common.

With the decline of Monarch butterflies, this plant is needed now more than ever since it is the only plant on which the Monarchs can complete the life cycle. Not many people know this information, and it is one reason we have continued hosting the Butterfly Release.

We received the largest crowd ever last year, topping over 500 people. We believe this year will be just as popular. The great thing is that we gathered feedback on how to make the event better, and we are testing out some of the ideas this year.

One of the “loudest” requests was to have more butterflies released. In our past events, we released 50. We will release the same amount this year, but we are allowing the public to purchase butterflies to release along with ours. The butterflies are $15 each, and they are tagged for the migration. Tickets for the butterflies are limited and are being sold at: http://ow.ly/3X8n50uSAwB

All butterfly tickets must be purchased by July 26. This ensures that the butterflies are fully grown by the day of the event. Those who purchase the extra butterflies will have to arrive 30 minutes prior to the event start, to check in and secure them. Coming in late may result in not receiving your butterfly for the release.

We also received feedback on the hot weather and decided to move the event to the fall when we could actively participate in the Monarch migration. So, this year the Butterfly Release will be held Sunday, Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. at Hurley Park, 304 Annandale Ave., Annex section of the park where we have more room to accommodate the larger crowd. This part of the park is the large open area across from City Lake and on the other side of the dam surrounded by Lake, Club, Annandale and Confederate Avenues.

Attendees also requested that we have food and refreshments, so we are looking for vendors/food trucks who would be interested in this opportunity.

The event happens quickly, so be sure to arrive on time to pick the best spot to sit and see the entire event. Guests will learn about Monarch butterflies and other species of butterflies, their migration, and milkweed (their host plant).

This is a great opportunity to help out our local pollinators since their habitat and host plant locations have dwindled. With a little bit of luck and education, we can help our local pollinators thrive for future generations.

To purchase tickets, visit: https://apm.activecommunities.com/salisburyncparks/Activity_Search/1082

For more information on Hurley Park, please visit: https://salisburync.gov/Government/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks/Hurley-Park, like us on Facebook and Instagram, or call us at 704-638-4459. If you would like more information on pollinators, visit: https://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms-pollinatorconservation/