What is the theme for our state parks this year?
The theme for N.C. state parks is Year of the Lepidoptera. Lepidoptera?! Is that a dinosaur?
Nope! Lepidoptera is the scientific name for a large order of insects that include butterflies and moths.
Butterflies and moths are some of our most showy and beautiful insects that we can see in this state.
Butterflies and moths do not start out their lives as the showy, winged creatures flitting around a flower bed or hovering around your outdoor lights at night. They begin their journey as an egg. This egg then hatches into a larva, which we know more commonly as a caterpillar.
During this phase they are on a vegetation eating binge although there are some species of caterpillars that are meat eaters. During this phase, which lasts between two weeks to a month, a caterpillar can grow up to 30,000 times its original larval size.
The next stage is the pupa stage in which the caterpillar spins silk around itself into a chrysalis/cocoon and begins metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis, or change, is completed when the butterfly or moth emerge from the chrysalis/cocoon.
During the adult stage, butterflies and moths have developed wings, six legs and use their new proboscis (a long tongue) to feed on nectar and other liquid food sources. The height of butterfly and moth season is from spring through fall. These creatures are great pollinators and are beautiful and curious to observe.
You can find N.C. moth and butterfly checklists on www.ncparks.gov. Click on the link on the left labeled “2014-Year of the Lepidoptera” and then on the “Emerge and Fly” link.
The Kerr Lake state recreation area has butterfly gardens maintained at the main office, County Line Park, Kimball Point, and Nutbush Area 3.
Come out and observe these magnificent creatures this coming season!