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New Butterfly Pavilion to open Saturday at Claremont's Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

June 10, 2010 |  7:08 am

Dogface When students from L.A.'s West Adams Preparatory High School received an early morning preview of the new Butterfly Pavilion at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont on Wednesday, most of the butterflies were napping. “It’s a double-edged sword,” said Rancho Santa Ana research associate Robert Allen, a.k.a. Bug Bob. “When it’s cool, you can get close to the butterflies. When it’s hot, they fly all over the place.”

CaterNo matter. The students oohed and aahed as they watched classmates cup a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar in their bare hands and allowed friendly California dogface butterflies (the state butterfly) and chalcedon checkerspots to rest on their fingertips and noses.

Dogface3All of the butterflies and plants inside the pavilion are native to Southern California. “A number of the butterflies were collected here,” Allen said. “If they escape, they’ll be fine.”

Eventually, hundreds of butterflies will be installed inside the temporary walk-through enclosure, which opens to the public Saturday.

Butterfly_pipevineThe pavilion is modest in size but promises to be a great resource for gardeners who want to cultivate a butterfly garden at home.  Plants are clearly labeled, so visitors can write down names -- Salvia spathacea here, Aster chilensis there -- and then plant the same things in their own gardens.

A nearby pavilion will have educational displays and will host a workshop, “Habitat Gardening: Creating a Sustainable Butterfly Garden,” from 9 a.m. to noon. Saturday. Cost: $39.  

The Butterfly Pavilion will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Aug. 1. Admission is $2 on top of regular Rancho Santa Ana admission of $4 to $8. The garden is at 1500 N. College Ave., Claremont; (909) 625-8767; www.rsabg.org.

-- Lisa Boone

Photos, from top: A California dogface butterfly rests inside the new Butterfly Pavilion at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont; Bug Bob cradles a white-lined sphinx moth caterpillar; Rosemary Barillas, 17, left, and Ivan Mateo, 17, get a close look at a chalcedon checkerspot; students lean in to smell the pipevine swallowtail caterpillar, which uses a foul scent to ward off predators.

Credits: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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