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Butterfly Day: A New Topanga Tradition 

Butterflies filled the warm air at the Mountain Mermaid, delighting a thousand participants at the third annual Topanga Butterfly Day. 

“The event was a spectacular success, if I do say so myself,” Mermaid proprietor Bill Buerge told the Topanga New Times. “We pulled it off by shuttling people from the Theatricum without overwhelming the neighborhood. The Butterfly House was a big hit, we sold lots of native butterfly plants, there was live music all day, face-painting, food and beverage, and 20 tables with environmental partners. 

Participants this year included the National Wildlife Federation, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, Audubon Society, Poison Free Malibu and Topanga, Tree People, Malibu Monarch Project, Baby Rhino Rescue, The Topanga Docents, Eli’s Bees live bee exhibit, plus the Los Angeles County Library, Topanga Town Council and others. The exhibitors offered information and activities for all ages. An inventive interactive presentation by Tree People volunteers Diana Ovad and Cesar Hernandez was a hit, as was the selection of lush native pollinator plants available for purchase.

Gabriella Ebrahimian, Iset Powers, Rebecca Land-Hill, Lilly O’Connor and Quinnlyn Scheppner volunteered and spent the day painting children’s faces with whimsy butterflies, critters and flowers. Photo by Martina Paradiso

Fairies from the court of Queen Titania and King Oberon appeared courtesy of the Theatricum Botanicum, delighting young visitors, and face painters transformed children into human butterflies, but the mesmerizing stars of the show were the live butterflies. Caterpillars are lovingly raised in the Butterfly House by Sergio Jimenez, Mountain Mermaid’s pollinator plant propagation expert and butterfly whisperer. In the garden, where native plants provide habitat and nectar for many kinds of pollinators, butterflies were everywhere.

One of the goals of the event is to encourage and inspire residents to make room in their own gardens for  butterflies and the plants they need to thrive. This Topanga tradition may be only three years old, but it exemplifies the spirit of living in harmony with nature that makes this community so special for so many of us.

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