Ever since we started reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Bug has been infatuated with butterflies.

Do butterflies really eat chocolate cake?
Why did the green leaf make him feel better?

So when we heard about the new Butterfly House at Ladew Topiary Gardens, we knew we had to visit! The first of its kind in the region, the Butterfly House showcases native plants and the native butterflies and caterpillars that depend on them for food and shelter. It provides an up-close, educational experience on the natural history and life cycle of several butterfly species.

Ladew’s knowledgable kid-friendly educational staff makes it a fun edventure for everyone in the family.

We visited during their ‘soft’ launch on July 19th. As the native plants stabilize and the butterfly population grows over the next month, The Butterfly House will be celebrated during Ladew’s annual Children’s Day on September 6th. Not so surprisingly, this year’s Children’s Day theme is A Celebration of Butterflies & Caterpillars. Mark your calendars now!

what to bring

Ladew is gorgeous and you can definitely spend the whole day there wandering through the gardens — not just the Butterfly House! Be sure to pack sunscreen, bug spray, and drinks. Their cafe is open 7 days a week from 11 AM – 3 PM (which is great if you need a little sustenance!). We did manage to maneuver our stroller around the grounds because it’s easier than carrying all of the Little Lion Man’s equipment; however, I would highly encourage you to bring a sling or backpack carrier if you’ve got a little one who may get tired perusing the grounds or taking the nature walk. In the words of the Bug, strollers are a “little bit tricky.”

ask the experts: all about butterflies

A few of our readers had some questions about butterflies — and the staff at Ladew kindly answered!

Response from Ladew: Butterflies and moths have thousands of dusty scales covering their wings. These scales give them colors on their wings. Some scales are iridescent and look shiny or metallic when the light hits it, while other scales are colored by pigments. The scales on butterfly and moth wings are loosely attached and easily detach when touched. This is why we should not touch their wings.

Response from Ladew: There are approximately 3,000 species of butterflies on our continent, North America. There are about 725 species of butterflies in the United States alone! We have over 150 species of butterflies here in Maryland.

Kieran asked his question via our facebook page: do different flowers attract different kinds of butterflies and, if so, what could we plant that would attract the biggest butterfly?

Response from Ladew:
Butterflies and moths drink nectar from a variety of flower species. They tend to prefer feeding on flowers that grow in clusters. It is important to plant native plant species in your gardens and yards to support native butterflies and moths, along with other native insects and animals. You can attract various butterfly and moth species in Maryland by planting perennial nectar sources such as milkweeds (Asclepias syriaca, Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias verticillata)—also serve as host plants for the monarch caterpillars, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)—an early blooming shrub, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)—middle season blooming flower, and golden rod (Solidago)—blooms late in the season. Some of our largest butterflies in Maryland, like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, will be attracted to those species of flowers, as well as many others.

ladew topiary gardens

3535 Jarrettsville Pike
Monkton, Maryland 21111
Phone: 410-557-9570
Gardens, Manor House and Nature Walk open daily April 1-October 31.
Weekdays 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Weekends 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Members are FREE ⎟ Adults $13 ⎟ Seniors (62+) / Students $11 ⎟ Children (2-12) $7 ⎟ Children under 2 are FREE