Event Name: Butterfly Institute: Introduction to Butterflies
Event Date(s): Wednesday, 7/13/2022, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 2 hours
Wednesday, 7/20/2022, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 2 hours
Wednesday, 7/27/2022, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 2 hours
Sunday, 7/24/2022, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM, 2 hours
Sunday, 7/31/2022, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM, 2 hours
Tickets Available: 14
Purchase Deadline: Wednesday, 7/13/2022 6:01 PM

Instructors: Various

This 3-week hybrid course (3 online lectures, 2 field experiences) will introduce you to the diversity, ecology, and life history of our beautiful New England butterflies, along with management tools to support them. This course is designed for the butterfly enthusiast who wants to dig deeper, and for those who would like to further their appreciation of the natural world around them.

This program consists of five classes. When registering, please make sure all five classes are selected.

Week 1:  Introduction to New England Butterflies: Diversity, Anatomy, Field Identification

Instructor: David Small

July 13, 6:30-8:30 pm

This first class will cover the butterfly basics – what makes a butterfly, how to watch, enjoy, identify, and talk about them. You’ll learn about the diversity of New England butterfly families, specialized butterfly anatomy, and life cycles. We’ll discuss field marks and identification techniques, as well as introduce you to some of the guides and technology that is helpful for enjoying butterflies in the field.

Week 2:  Butterflies in the Wild: Ecology and Behavior

Instructor: Martha Gach

July 20, 6:30-8:30 pm

This week we will consider how butterflies interact with their environment over the course of an entire life cycle. From egg to adult, butterflies are finely tuned organisms that must constantly read their environment in order to respond appropriately. We’ll examine how butterflies utilize habitat, what roles they play in the ecosystem, and how they find food, avoid predation, attract mates, and reproduce. 

Field Experience: July 24, 9:00-11:00 am

Led by Dolores Price, Massachusetts Butterfly Club

Focus on butterfly field ID and behavior


Week 3:  Butterfly Conservation: Creating Habitat through Gardens 

Instructor: Bill Benner

July 27, 6:30-8:30 pm

Gardens can be a highly successful tool in the butterfly conservation arsenal. This class will present gardening from the perspective of habitat, including beneficial plant choices for butterfly larvae and adults, physical characteristics to incorporate, and garden management techniques to support the butterfly life cycle.

Field Experience: July 31, 9:00-11:00 am

Led by Dawn Vesey, Massachusetts Butterfly Club

Focus on butterfly ID, butterfly habitat and gardens


Instructor Biographies

Bill Benner

Bill Benner is a life-long East Coast gardener who has been planting for wildlife and pollinators in western Massachusetts since 2004.  His gardens are particularly focused on butterflies and hummingbirds, with both nectar and host plants, and a strong emphasis on natives.  He is eager to share his enthusiasm for pollinator gardening with others, and he has lectured and taught on butterflies and gardening for the Native Plant Trust, the Hitchcock Center, and a number of garden centers, garden clubs, and conservation groups.  He is a past president of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, and currently serves as the editor of its publication, Massachusetts Butterflies.

Martha Gach

Martha is president of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club and Conservation Coordinator and Regional Education Manager with Mass Audubon, based at Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary and Conservation Center in Worcester. She also teaches at Worcester State University. An ecologist and evolutionary biologist, Martha designed the Broad Meadow Brook campus landscape to support butterflies and pollinators, but also birds and wildlife, and was featured on “Ask This Old House”  for a segment on butterfly gardens.. She coordinates the annual Butterfly Festival at Broad Meadow Brook and serves on her town’s Conservation Commission, advocating for native plantings.

David Small 

Dave is president of the 250-member Athol Bird and Nature Club and Director of the Millers River Environmental Center. Dave shares his passion for Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies and most recently moths through workshops, lectures and field trips around New England. 

Dave volunteers for several non-profits including Millers River Watershed Council, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, Mass Watershed Coalition, and Mass Audubon's Important Bird Area Technical Advisory Committee, National Moth Week Science Advisory Board, and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Advisory Committee. Working for the Commonwealth of Mass for 35 years, Dave served as Assistant Regional Director at the DCR Quabbin Reservoir in Central Massachusetts retiring in 2013.

$150 Member Adult, $175 Adult (Registration includes admission to the Garden on field session days)

Additional Program Information

  1. Online sessions will be live only.
  2. You will receive a zoom link to the online sessions in the confirmation email.

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