The Butterfly Tent Safari at the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland invites visitors to get up close and personal with butterflies native to New Jersey.
The tent includes about 50 butterflies, including monarchs, painted ladies and swallowtails, surrounded by some of their favorite flowers.
According to the center's naturalist David Alexander, some of the monarchs are raised at the Environmental Center while others are ordered for the display.
Visitors are able to interact with the butterflies by picking them up on a sponge that has been dipped in purple Gatorade.
But the purpose of the display is more than just having a close encounter with a winged kind, Alexander explained.
The Environmental Center educates visitors about conservation, which can be achieved by having residents plant butterfly-friendly plants in their back yards. Monarchs, for instance, like milkweed, and painted ladies prefer mallow, while swallowtails like to feast on dill, fennel and parsley.
Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo stated in a release about the display, “The Butterfly Tent Safari is another example of the interactive and innovative programs available at our Environmental Center to raise awareness about our environment and the importance of conservation."
The Butterfly Tent Safari opened on July 14 and runs though Saturday, July 28, Monday through Friday, from noon to 3 p.m., and Saturdays July 21 and 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A $2 donation is suggested to enter the tent.
Two special butterfly-themed programs ($6 for children, $8 for adults, includes tent access) will take place on the next two Saturdays. On July 21, from 10 to 11 a.m. or noon to 1 p.m., children ages 5 and up can participate in "Buzz Into Action With Insect Education," a hands-on presenation about bugs and butterflies. Then on July 28, adults and children ages 8 and older are invited to a Butterfly Gardening Workshop led by Essex County Rutgers Master Gardener Jean Greely.
To register and for more information, call 973-228-8776.