LOOKING AHEAD / By M. Samuel Anderson, AWN staff
MISSION, Texas—Awakening News (AWN) is again going to go all the way from Canada to be on the scene at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, near the U.S. border with Mexico.
Late last year and early in 2019, AWN traveled to cover the news of the Butterfly Center being the focal point of controversy over the U.S. federal government’s plans to build a part of the border wall in a way that would have cut through the middle of the Center’s back acreage where large amounts of butterfly-friendly / pollinator-friendly vegetation grows.
This year, AWN will be on the scene at the Center for the 24th annual Texas Butterfly Festival—right when the great migration of majestic monarch butterflies is making its way from parts of Canada and elsewhere in the northern regions of North America, all the way through Mission and other parts of Texas and onward to the Monarchs’ final migration destination in Mexico.
Center Director Marianna Trevino Wright appeared on a Sunday morning news talk show Oct. 27 on station KRGV Channel 5, the local ABC affiliate in the far-south Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Echoing a press release from the Center, she announced the following:
“Join us, Saturday, November 2 – Tuesday, November 5, 2019, for the 24th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival, and see for yourself why USA Today calls Mission, Texas, ‘The butterfly capital of the USA.’ Renowned for a volume and variety of wild, free-flying butterflies that cannot be found anywhere else in the country, deep-south Texas is home to the country’s premier butterfly event.”
The press release added:
“Registrants will spend three days exploring renowned public lands and private properties with world-class trip leaders, when you may reasonably expect to see more than 60 species in a day. Last year, attendees from 23 states and four countries registered to experience one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America, with the assistance of expert guides. Come see for yourself why the Rio Grande Valley has earned worldwide recognition for its outstanding butterfly and birding spots, inviting thousands of visitors each year to discover its remarkable assortment of preserves, refuges, nature parks, trails, and more.”
Also, festival goers can see butterflies that may only be found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, where the river winds its way toward the Laguna Madre at the Gulf of Mexico. This unique region encompasses no fewer than 11 different types of habitat, from tidal wetlands to riparian forest, brushland scrub to prairie savanna, and is home to more than 1,200 different species of plants, 500 species of birds, 200 vertebrate species, roughly 300 species of butterflies, and over 90 species of dragonflies, according to the Center.
Wright told KRGV Channel 5 that dwindling numbers of pollinators is a grave concern, including butterflies and bees.
“We’re already looking at insect Armageddon,” unless humanity makes some wise and bold choices to preserve the pollinators that uphold our crops and food supply, she said, adding that some bee species reportedly are on the endangered species list.
“Birds, butterflies, bees and bugs,” she concluded, need a certain habitat just like people do, so the insects can feed their young and reproduce. Notably, she said the Butterfly Center is to butterflies what convenience stores are for traveling human beings.
“The Center is like a ‘Bucee’s for butterflies,” she mused, referring to an American chain of convenience stores and gas stations located in the Central, North, South, and Southeast regions of Texas and Robertsdale, Alabama.