This weekend brings a slew of butterfly related events for the novice lepidopterist and butterfly gardeners.
Saturday we’ll be at the Grand Reopening of Phil Hardberger Park in San Antonio. Opened a year ago, the 311-acre natural area is a testament to the vision of Mayor Phil Hardberger, who saw the project to fruition despite a serious recession.[wpvideo 1flHIsqR] This weekend, the $3 million second phase of transforming the former Voelcker Ranch into our newest natural area will be introduced to the public.  A ribbon cutting will be staged at 10 AM, followed by Dinosaur George, then a full program with nature walks, kite-making and flying, children’s basketball competitions, parachute games, Frisbee tosses and more.  The San Antonio Zoo, Texas Master Naturalists, Medina River Natural Area, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, the Native Plant Society, and Texas Butterfly Ranch will join a crew of 14 total to host educational table displays.  I’ll be on hand with a selection of caterpillars, chrysalises and host plants, so please stop by and say hello.
Butterfly gardens are in the plans for Hardberger Park, but park construction temporarily “sidetracked plans to have them ready,” said Gail Gallegos, Nature Preserve Officer for the Park.  “The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy is spearheading and promoting the upcoming butterfly gardens.”

Grand Reopening of  Phil Hardberger Park 
Saturday, May 21, 8 AM – 7 PM
13203 Blanco Road,
San Antonio, TX 78230

Meanwhile, at the Twig Bookshop located at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, author Winifred Barnum Newman will read from her crossover book, Caterpillars Can Fly.  The story tells the tale of the metamorphosis of a 15-year-old girl diagnosed early in life with a cognitive learning disability.

The Twig Bookshop Butterfly Book Reading
Saturday, May 21, 10 AM
Winifred Barnum Newman
Caterpillars Can Fly
200 East Grayson at the Pearl Brewery
San Antonio, TX  78215

Up the road in Austin, the Austin Butterfly Forum  will host a guided caterpillar walk for members only on Sunday morning, May 22, 9 AM at Zilker Park near Barton Springs.   Participants are advised to walk past the pool, to the Barton Springs trailhead.  Here’s a map.

Renown caterpillar expert Dr. David Wagner, Ph.D, author of the definitive field guide to Caterpillars of Eastern North America, has a reputation as a passionate and engaging speaker.   He will lead this guided tour for  Austin Butterfly Forum members only, showing us how to find, identify, collect and understand the oft-underestimated caterpillar, which is frequently the most entertaining phase of the butterfly life cycle.  (If you don’t believe me, check out the video above.)
Still not a member of the Austin Butterfly Forum?  Maybe now’s a good time to join. Annual membership is $20 per family membership and provides access to exclusive outings like this.

Austin Butterfly Forum
Sunday, May 22 9 AM
Guided Caterpillar Tour at Barton Springs Trail 
Dr. David Wagner, PhD and author of  
Caterpillars of Eastern North America
Loop 36o Trail Access
Barton Creek Greenbelt
Austin, TX  78704

Dr. Wagner then makes himself available in Austin on Monday, May 23,  when he speaks to the Forum in the  Zilker Botanical Garden Center.  The meeting is free to members, $5 for nonmembers. Dr. Wagner spoke previously to the Forum in 2008. “Dr. Wagner’s brilliance and intense knowledge of one of the dominant life forms on the planet is reason enough to attend,” notes Mike Quinn, president of the ABF.

Austin Butterfly Forum
Monday, May 23, 7 PM
Caterpillar Talk  
Dr. David Wagner, PhD and author of  
Caterpillars of Eastern North American
Zilker Garden
2220 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX  78746

And if that’s not enough flutter action to get you out of the house, Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times best selling author of The Butterfly’s Daughter, will speak at Book People in Austin on Sunday at 3 PM.  Monroe’s book weaves a tale of transformation that spans multiple generations of women.  Luz Avila, the main character, sets out on a voyage of self discovery, with the magic of the Monarch butterfly migration laced into the narrative.  The book is set in San Antonio.

Book People Butterfly Book Reading
Sunday, May 22, 3 PM
The Butterfly’s Daughter
Mary Alice Monroe

Amazon reviewers all gave it four or five stars.  Check back here for a review of the book later this month.    
UPDATE 5/20/2011–The location of the Guided Caterpillar Tour for Austin Butterfly Forum members was mistakenly identified in this blogpost.  It has been corrected.    ABF members should goto the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Loop 360 Trail Access. See you there!