One of the Hudson Valley’s best summer activities: visiting a butterfly farm
Farm tours featuring critters and crops are a fun activity in the Valley — but why not pay a visit to a butterfly farm, too?
Kim Dolson and her husband, John, took over Butterfly Botanicals in Bloomingburg last November. And now that spring’s here, the two Orange County natives are rolling up their sleeves to ready the butterfly farm for warm weather.
“We’ll be renovating the butterfly flight house, among other things,” says Kim of the greenhouse-like site; it’s about 24 by 50 feet in size, and will soon be home to dozens of the winged beauties, which visitors can see up close. “The type we’ll have will depend on the season, but Monarchs and Painted Ladies are always popular,” Kim says.
Some butterfly farms primarily breed the little flyers for exhibits and large-quantity sales. “But we’re not intentionally breeding them; that’s really a science in itself. Our butterflies are mostly for observation and education,” Kim says. Events for families, school groups, and environmentally minded visitors will be the central focus of the farm’s new incarnation. “But if someone wants a large number of butterflies for release at a wedding, birthday, funeral, or other event, we can certainly arrange it through breeders we know,” she adds.
The Dolsons offer a florist service on their farm, and will add annual and perennial plants sales this spring and summer — plus, a pumpkin patch and hayrides are in the pipeline for autumn. The butterfly haven’s outdoor fields will be brimming with butterfly-friendly plants like milkweed in order to attract butterflies and provide a natural habitat during their migration season.
“I read that scientists found only about 59 percent of the Monarchs that left Mexico to migrate north last year made it all the way,” said Kim. “It was mostly due to things like pesticides destroying their food habitats along the way. So anything we can do to help people learn more about butterflies — and help save them — is important. Butterflies are amazing creatures.”
Butterfly Botanicals, Bloomingburg. 845-733-7713; www.nybutterflies.com
“Raising butterflies is a wonderful vocation,” says Patricia du Plessis, whose family owns Rainbow’s End Butterfly Farm and Nursery in Pawling.
Their insect Eden offers an indoor butterfly house, as well as a habitat trail through meadows and fields where butterflies can flit freely among native plants. There’s also a shop featuring butterfly books, knickknacks, and local products.
The farm holds a butterfly tag-and-release event in September, when Monarchs head south to Mexico for the winter. The family also raises butterflies for exhibits, educational groups, and for release at events such as weddings and birthdays.
Du Plessis says that visitors are welcome to visit the farm on weekends in June. “We also invite school groups in May and June; after that, this season we’ll be doing renovations and breeding work for a few months,” and most activities will be on hiatus — so check with the farm about their upcoming schedule before you visit.
Rainbow’s End Butterfly Farm & Nursery, Pawling. 845-832-6749; www.rainbowsendfarm.biz