As we approach March and new blooms start to sprout on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, visitors are more likely to spot one of nature’s most fascinating insects, the butterfly. Known for their metamorphosis, butterflies inspire awe and wonder among park visitors. By joining stewardship programs to help increase the native plant population, volunteers can do their part to ensure butterflies prosper on the Landmarks this spring.
Butterflies can utilize a wide variety of flowers for nectar, but require certain native plants to thrive as a species. These blooms, widely known as host plants, are critical as they provide a place for butterflies to lay their eggs and serve as food for the caterpillar (larval) stage of the butterfly. Most species of butterflies will only lay their eggs in a select few species of plants and without these native plants, the species can diminish. To maintain and increase the population of butterflies, visitors can join stewardship programs to ensure native plants thrive on the Landmarks.
On Wednesday, February 28 from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. visitors can join Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers at the one-of-a-kind Native Seed Farm in Irvine to help extend the Farm’s restoration impact on Orange County’s wildlands. During the Dig in! Plant Wildflowers with the Native Seed Farm participants will be planting new plants in the growing fields or harvesting the plant’s seed, depending on the season. Planting native plants that will eventually be harvested and planted throughout the open spaces will attract various native butterfly species on the Landmarks.
Removing invasive species is essential to ensuring native plants flourish and provide for Orange County’s butterfly species. The Sahara Mustard Pull at Loma Ridge on Thursday, March 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. is a great opportunity for volunteers to remove the nasty exotic Sahara mustard weed from invading the Landmarks. Participants will be bending, kneeling, and walking across slope and uneven terrain during this program and all tools and training will be provided on site.
The first Sunday of every month, butterfly enthusiasts can join the Butterfly Garden Volunteer Day at OC Parks’ Mason Regional Park. During this program, volunteers can learn new gardening tips and create a beautiful butterfly sanctuary for park visitors to enjoy.
All programs on the Landmarks are free with required pre-registration, which closes 4 p.m. the day prior to each activity. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Difficulty levels and age requirements vary from program to program, so make sure to check out each activity description to learn more. For more information on events, or to register, click the titles above or go to LetsGoOutside.org/activities.