The Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary celebrates its 10th anniversary when it opens its doors to the public Memorial Day weekend.
This year, the Sanctuary features the Amazon Milk Frog in a specially designed display to simulate the ecosystem of their South American rainforest habitat.
"They are from South America," said Mari Gruber, the Sanctuary director. "They are protected not endangered. We are really lucky to have a family of three or four here."
"They look like little Buddhas," she said. "They have adorable smiley faces, snake eyes, and fat bellies." Amazon milk frogs are large frogs, reaching sizes of 2.5 to 4 inches in length. They eat insects-at the Sanctuary, they will be fed crickets.
Adult frogs are light grey in color with brown or black banding, while juveniles exhibit stronger contrasts. As Amazon Milk Frogs age their skin develops a slightly bumpy texture. The "milk" in the name comes from a milky colored fluid these frogs excrete when stressed.
"We are also bringing in a mystery creature to live here for the summer, We are really excited about that," Gruber said. "We are bringing something that has been raised for years for us. We put clues for the contest on our website: bearmountainbutterflies.com."
She hopes that if people are interested enough to do the research, "they will learn all kinds of fascinating things in their search to solve this mystery. The last clue will be a picture of the habitat. There will be three days in May that people can e-mail their guesses." The mystery creature makes its appearance at the Sanctuary on Memorial Day weekend, and will reside at the Sanctuary until the end of the summer season.
The Sanctuary will offer five wildlife shows presented by the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, on select Sundays. They will be staying open late on Tuesday and Friday evenings, and will offer a Thursday morning preschool program, and a Friday Fun Day.
The special children's program willing to reduce young children to butterflies with a puppet play, guided art projects, singing and dancing, and dress-up. Youngsters will be introduced to the flutterarium together with their parents at a time when there are no other people in the building.
"Often young children are afraid of butterflies," Gruber said. "Once they get scared, it is hard to make them unscarred. It's a program we call, 'Waiting For Wings.' We do it every Thursday starting in mid-June. It's a great opportunity for people who say "my two-year-old loves butterflies."
This year, the Sanctuary built an outdoor pollination garden. "I wanted to find out about the butterfly as a pollinator," she said. "They are an important pollinator, second only to bees." She's thinking of calling it Plan Bee.
"The idea is to connect kids with what is outside," she said. "The majority of the children that come here for the first time don't know about butterflies or pollination. If we are going to still hold on to as much of the natural balance as possible, kids need to understand that they are the stewards of the next generation."
"We planted six dwarf crab apple trees for their nectar and habitat-to attract adults and feed the caterpillars-for pollinators, and for winter birds," she said. "I'm planting every variety of perennial and native plant that will attract pollinators in this area. There will be signage for people to learn which creatures like each plant."
This season, the Sanctuary will be offering the following programs: basic butterflies, moths, native pollinators, attracting butterflies and pollinators to your yard, poison dart and other frogs, the connection between all living creatures, and how we are made of the same stuff.
"Did you know that the wings of a butterfly are made of the same material as our fingernails?" Gruber asked.
The Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary opens for the three-day Memorial weekend, beginning Saturday, May 26. After that, it will be open Thursday through Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and beginning June 12 will also be open Tuesday 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. Some Fridays will be open to 7 p.m.
For information, see bearmountainbutterflies.com, phone: 570-325-4848, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.