Wings in the Park - Bees, Butterflies and Blossoms

Posted: July 13, 2011

A community celebration and special dedication of the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tom Tudek Memorial Park hosted by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County with “Butterfly Bob” Snetsinger, The Tudek Trust, Ferguson Township, and Centre Region Parks and Recreation. Date: July 23, 2011 Time: 10am-2pm, Special Dedication at 10:30am.

It would be hard to describe in a few sentences the wonder and enchantment of The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden. The three-acre enhanced habitat within the Tom Tudek Memorial Park (Ferguson Township) teems with plants, and a rich variety of insect and animal species that together make up the natural diversity of life.  The development of this butterfly habitat has been the passion of Dr. Robert Snetsinger, Professor Emeritus of Entomology at Penn State University, popularly known as “Butterfly Bob.” As close friends of the Tudek family, the project developed as a labor of love in tribute to the loss of Wendy and Bob Snetsinger’s teenage daughter to cancer who, like Tom Tudek, died at age seventeen. Both their daughter Clare and Tom Tudek were interested in butterflies with Tom and his brother having boyhood butterfly collections.

Dr. Snetsinger’s mission has been to educate the public about the importance of butterfly conservation and ecosystems, many of which are in decline throughout the world. Through his efforts he has encouraged the general public to establish butterfly gardens through the creation of new butterfly friendly habitats and the restoration of neglected waste areas. The Tudek Trust, Ferguson Township, and Centre Region Parks and Recreation have recently recognized Dr. Snetsinger’s outstanding work and have officially designated the habitat as “The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tom Tudek Memorial Park.” A special dedication will take place on July 23rd at 10:30am at the garden information kiosk.

Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Center County, in partnership with Dr. “Butterfly Bob” Snetsinger, and the Friends o Frost Entomological Museum develop and operate The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden as an educational resource. Master Gardeners provide mentoring in environmental stewardship; promote gardening for biodiversity; develop habitat informational displays; and offer tours, presentations and other educational programs.  

A butterfly gardener extends an open invitation for many species of wildlife, especially showy butterflies, to visit and take up residency. Monarch butterflies in particular are in abundance as the Garden is designated as an official Monarch Watch Migration Waystation. Park visitors stroll the grounds of the Tom Tudek Memorial Park, taking in the beauty the park has to offer in its scenic walking-paths, horse pasture, and of course, the wonder of the butterfly garden. Curious onlookers frequently stop to ask questions and marvel at the natural beauty that is the web of life in the meadow habitat.

Located within the larger habitat is The Penn State Extension Master Gardener Pollinator Friendly Demonstration Garden, a garden created as part of a statewide effort to educate the public on planting pollinator friendly gardens that provide food and habitat for native insects and animals. July 23rd marks the second annual Wings In the Park celebration, a Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County planned and hosted public event located at the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden in the Tom Tudek Memorial Park. The day’s activities include demonstrations and displays, a photography exhibit, tours, family games and hands-on activities, all developed to showcase Butterfly and Pollinator Friendly Gardening including the importance of bees, bee health, and pollination. Master Gardeners and “Butterfly Bob” will be on hand to provide guidance on how to establish butterfly and other pollinator friendly plantings in the home garden.

Highlights of the celebration are the habitat scavenger hunt, shutter bug booth, and live observation beehive and life cycle exhibit. Whether gazing at an American Goldfinch perched on a thistle, a bumble bee harvesting nectar from a coneflower, or an Eastern Black Swallowtail taking wing above the midsummer blossoms, nature lovers of all ages will delight in what this unique habitat has to offer.

Also participating in the day’s activities will be the garden community stewards. Community organizations, school groups, and neighborhoods work with Master Gardener mentors to explore environmental stewardship practices through hands on experience working an area of the habitat. The gardening sessions are always rewarding for all who steward the habitat within this lovely pastoral setting.

Sixeen years ago this old field habitat (agricultural weeds) had six resident species of butterflies. Today there are over 30 resident species of butterflies and the garden has been enriched with over 100 species of native plants serving as caterpillar hosts and providing nectar for the adult butterflies. The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden has become a special place for the public and is visited by youth and school groups, gardeners, photographers, researchers and thousands of people of all ages each year. Join “Butterfly Bob” Snetsinger and the Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County for a day of fun and adventure sharing the benefits and delights of pollinator friendly gardening while honoring Dr. Snetsinger for his special contribution to our community. For Additional Information see attached flyer or contact:

Douglas Ford