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June 11, 2014 - 11:29pm

Botanical gardens hosts talk on butterflies


This summer, the University’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens provides not only a place to visit and connect with nature, but also a center for education.

Monday night, around 30 butterfly enthusiasts gathered in a classroom-like setting for a presentation by Brenda Dziedzic. For almost 15 years, Dziedzic has been passionate about butterflies, transforming her backyard into a butterfly garden, as well as founding a butterfly house open to the public at a nearby greenhouse. She recently published a book entitled Learn About Butterflies in the Garden.

Dziedzic’s presentation consisted of a virtual tour of the plants she’d selected to best attract butterflies to her garden, as well as information on how to cultivate a butterfly oasis in your own backyard. She also spoke on the different native and exotic species of butterflies that can thrive in Michigan, as well as what to do in order to best accommodate them. Dziedzic’s audience was very engaged, often interjecting her presentation to ask questions regarding the well-being of their own butterflies.

Her passion for butterflying seemed to be contagious, as she captivated the room with stories about the creatures in her butterfly garden as they journey from caterpillars to butterflies.

In an interview after the event, Dziedzic said she’s always been interested in butterflies, and rememberd how they used to be in her backyard as a child. Though her degree is in electrical engineering technology, she decided to pursue butterflying more intensely after retiring several years ago.

She said she holds lectures not only because of her love of butterflying, but because she believes it’s important to educate the community as well.

“I hope that people who come to these lectures learn not only how fun butterflying can be, but how important it is for the entire environment,” Dziedzic said. “It’s more than just butterflies, it’s part of our whole ecosystem, the ants, spiders, earwigs, praying mantis, all these different creatures eat larvae, and so do most of our birds. We would lose most of these things if we didn’t have caterpillars and butterflies.”

Next month’s activity will be a guided tour of the herb gardens, and in August an etymologist is scheduled to speak on garden-friendly bugs.