Get up close to monarchs during festival at Audubon Nature Center

girl looking at butterfly eggs
Inspecting milkweed leaves for monarch butterfly eggs is just one of several ways to get close to these fascinating creatures at Audubon Community Nature Center’s Monarch Butterfly Festival on Saturday, Aug. 26. Photo courtesy Audubon Community Nature Center

Walk around an indoor garden filled with free-flying monarch butterflies during the Monarch Butterfly Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26 at Audubon Community Nature Center, 1600 Riverside Rd., one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.

You can hand-feed the butterflies or wander over to see how citizen scientists tag them to track their migration to Mexico. Observe their life cycle as you examine monarch eggs and hold caterpillars.

Festival admission is $8 for the public, $6 for Nature Center members and children ages 3-15, and free for children age 2 and under.  

Monarchs and Margaritas, a preview for adults, will be held the day before the festival, from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 at the Nature Center. You can enjoy the butterflies in a south-of the border theme. Admission includes two drink tickets for margaritas; non-alcoholic beverages will also be served. Admission is $25 prepaid or $30 at the door. Reservations are required by Wednesday, Aug. 23.

The once-abundant monarch butterfly has been disappearing from the landscape in recent years, though it is slowly recovering from record low populations. Learn more about their plight, tour the butterfly garden and learn how to create a butterfly garden of your own. You can also get plants to help monarchs in your yard.

Other things to do during the Monarch Butterfly Festival are:

  • Use a net to catch insects around the pond.
  • Take a nature hike or self-guided walk.
  • Get a monarch tattoo.
  • Enjoy live music with Jaimie Haight on the lawn in the afternoon.
  • Purchase food and ice cream.
  • Take photos.
  • Stay to watch the monarchs as they are released to fly to Mexico at the festival’s close at 4 p.m.

Scouts and other children can earn the right to purchase a fun patch, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the Welcome Desk at the Nature Center when you arrive for a list of requirements.

You can also explore the Ted Grisez Arboretum and additional gardens; exhibits of live fish, reptiles and amphibians, and Liberty, Audubon’s resident Bald Eagle, in her outdoor home.

The Blue Heron Gift Shop will feature butterfly items from books to t-shirts in addition to puppets, puzzles, jewelry, notecards, handcrafted walking sticks, books and field guides, bird feeders and seed, and locally-produced edibles.

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