By Liliana Duarte / Staff Writer
Teacher Jorge Ochoa and instructional associate Brian Hastie wanted to have something for the people to see in the horticulture unit, so they built a home for the butterflies and hosted an open house Monday, April 6.
Every year, they grow or offer something different in their garden. Last year, they created a fairy garden. Ochoa and Hastie had the house already and many plants that the butterflies could feed on, so they decided to build it. Nestor Perez, 20, a horticulture major, said, “Butterflies are important to us because they help pollinate some of the plants that we have here, but they are not the only insects that help.”
Ochoa planted milkweeds all around the garden, so butterflies could feed on them. Visitors will not only find butterflies in the house they built, but also all around the garden. Ochoa said the butterflies are also present to keep people informed on the butterflies. Many butterflies are dying because they do not have the food they need to stay alive. “I got so many emails asking me if I’m selling milkweeds during the sale because of the butterflies,” Ochoa said.
Hastie said, “This is more of an awareness thing. Just to show people and maybe have people understand the life cycle of the butterflies, to know that the monarch has its life stacked against it a little bit as we lose these habitats of milkweed.”
Students can take a class that teaches them more about the relationship that insects and plants have. Integrative pest management is one of the classes.
“It’s trying to get them more in tune with nature,” Hastie said.
Many different species of butterflies are flying around the garden. A few are in their chrysalis form. “The butterflies are interactive stuff for people to look at, so they could be interested and explore,” Hastie said.
With butterfly awareness day June 9 and the plant sale, which will run from April 16-19 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the garden will also be a good place to spend time between classes. It is a good time to have the butterflies in the garden and a great time for people to see, Ochoa said. Having the butterflies at the plant sale will make it a beautiful scene for everyone to enjoy, he added.
Ochoa’s and Hastie’s students say they enjoy learning about the relationship insects and plants have. Ochoa said he has a few students who have not seen a butterfly for a long time.
“They like it. A lot of them have memories of seeing more butterflies when they were younger. I’ve seen so many students who have kept with the unit and they said ‘I haven’t seen a butterfly in a long time.” It’s a great opportunity to watch the butterflies up close.”