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Mesmerized by the Monarch in a Garden

Fascinating Encounter with Monarch Butterflies, Caterpillars and Chrysalides in Vega Baja Butterfly Garden
Publication of Discovery: Sept. 30, 2021
Issue: September, 2021

Magical—that is how we describe a hidden and quiet place in Puerto Rico where stunning and vivid nature’s gifts show off: Vega Baja Butterfly Garden (Mariposario de Vega Baja). Monarch butterflies and caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) were the main attraction that caused lots of joy and excitement among the adventurer girl and everyone else. Both children and adults were fascinated by these delicate insects’ metamorphosis stages, movements, beauty, and curious facts. The guidance by Omar Sánchez, agronomist who takes care of the Vega Baja Butterfly Garden and its laboratory, was instrumental for enlightenment about the monarch butterfly.

The first awesome experience at this butterfly garden was at the laboratory. The adventurer girl and the rest of the group had the chance to look closely at monarch caterpillars and a butterfly while learning about their life cycle. The group was told that a caterpillar is born on the third or fourth day after the egg has been laid on the leaf that will become its food supply. According to Omar, each butterfly species lays eggs on particular host plants’ leaves. It was interesting seeing monarch caterpillars on Apple of Sodom tree leaves (“Bomba de Seda” or “algodón de playa” in Spanish) (Calotropis procera) that nourish these and watching others hanging during their “J” caterpillar stage. The monarch chrysalides were striking as they resembled jade gemstones. Their beautiful light green color with golden circular lines and dots stood out. Omar said that monarch chrysalis stage lasts eight to eleven days and afterwards its color changes until it is dark brown and orangish. Then the adult butterfly develops. Everyone was astonished at the gorgeous monarch butterfly—its wings’ symmetrical design with bright orange and black colors and white spots is a natural wonder.

Bonding with the monarch caterpillars and butterfly in the laboratory was another highlight. The adventurer girl and we all were amazed when holding caterpillars and one of the eight monarch butterflies that were born that day. The tickling sensation as they walked on hands and arms was strange but pleasing. It was exciting witnessing the butterfly walking on an adventurer boy’s arm towards his neck. This experience is memorable as it was everyone’s first time touching and feeling butterflies!

Once at the garden, nature kept surprising the group. Monarch butterflies were flying around the garden, performing a spectacle before their new audience. We felt privileged just admiring them in their habitat. We even saw a monarch butterfly’s egg laid on cotton bush plant’s leaf (“algodoncillo” in Spanish) (Asclepias curassavica), as pointed out by Omar. As if that were not enough, a very special scene happened right in front of everyone. Two monarch butterflies were mating! Curiously, the male butterfly was sucking yellow flower’s nectar while mating. Moreover, the paired butterflies flew together towards a dwarf jasmine plant (Radermachera kunming), and the male butterfly sucked the flower’s nectar. All these during the mating ritual. Incredible!

We know that the visit to Vega Baja Butterfly Garden is an unforgettable one for the adventurer girl, us and other companions. As in other occasions, nature demonstrated how spectacular it is.

Vega Baja Butterfly Garden is located in El Trece Recreational Area, Municipality of Vega Baja. Those interested in going to this garden may contact corresponding personnel at 787-855-1931. Guided tours are subject to prior reservations.

tour provider: Vega Baja Butterfly Garden
book here
where the crew ate: At Home
photograph by: N. Michelle Rodríguez

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all details with the pertinent businesses before planning your trip. Please be cautious. The company behind this publication assumes no responsibility for your safety when participating in the activities mentioned in this article. You are responsible for confirming whether you are capable of participating in any of these activities or tours, regardless of the effort level or any other information provided in this website.

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Mariposario de Vega Baja, El Trece Recreational Area

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Mariposario de Vega Baja,
El Trece Recreational Area



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Emma M. (San Juan, P.R.): “Holding the monarch butterfly on my hand was what most attracted me because I have never touched a butterfly and it tickled me.” (translation ours).

Lynel Toro (San Juan, P.R.): “I loved [the Vega Baja Butterfly Garden]”. It was beautiful…watching butterflies fly, watching them laying eggs. I have never seen butterflies laying eggs. I have never seen butterflies mating. That was beautiful. Omar Sánchez is great, very professional, immersed in his profession and his mission… maintaining that alive. The recreational area on Puerto Rico’s mountains is very pretty. It really was worth visiting the place on a Saturday. It was very pretty, educational and relaxing.” (translation ours).

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