This Spring Get Outside by Getting Into Butterfly Watching!

Looking for a way to get outside and have some socially-distanced fun this spring? You could always go for a hike on your normal trail or bring a book to a local park, but why not take a page from the book of elementary classrooms and go look for butterflies!

That’s right, heading out into a butterfly garden can add some childlike delight to your day, no matter how old you are. In fact, enter the world of butterfly watching this spring, and you’ll find an international community of all ages dedicated to tracking butterflies, analyzing caterpillars, and counting cocoons. With programs like the National Parks Butterfly Watch and Monarch Watch from the University of Kansas, there are so many options for you to find an online community of fellow butterfly enthusiasts, but there’s also plenty of ways to get started in butterfly watching on your own.

First, you’ll need to know where to go to find the butterflies, and it turns out that not every state is prime real estate for spotting these beautiful bugs. A recent study found that the top states for native butterfly species variety. Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia came out on top, with each state acting as a home to 54 species of native butterflies. Once you’ve determined how many butterflies you may be spotting, you can try to find a nearby butterfly garden or botanical garden where butterflies flock to each year. Note that this spring, many public and private gardens may be closed or open with limited capacities due to COVID-19.

Then, you’ll want to prepare for your butterfly watching outings. A great thing about butterfly watching is that you need very little gear, though it might be a good idea to use a pair of binoculars. Guides for butterfly watching suggest that you should try to research a little bit about local butterflies before getting into nature, as there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to identify a species when you see it. If you don’t recognize the butterfly, try noting details like coloring, size, shape and special markings so that you can try to identify what you saw later on.

If you’re already thinking about making butterfly memories last, you’ll probably want to snap a picture of the butterflies you see. Nature photography enthusiasts suggest that you take time getting to know options on your camera including flashburst and outdoor settings as well as getting down and exploring angles to snap a great shot.

In the end though, even if just for a fleeting moment, spotting a butterfly offers a trance-like joy to the watcher. In a springtime where we all are hoping to get outside and safely find the joys of the outdoors, there’s no better and easier hobby than butterfly watching. Good luck spotting!

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