Each spring, cherry blossoms and calla lilies bloom on Yangmingshan (陽明山) and are celebrated with flower festivals. Now, the stars of the mountains are butterflies, as the Yangmingshan Butterfly Festival (陽明山蝴蝶季) reaches its climax this weekend with activities and tours organized by Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters (陽明山國家公園管理處) and the Butterfly Conservation Society of Taiwan (台灣蝴蝶保育學會).
This year’s event features milkweed butterflies. Of the 13 species of milkweed butterflies in Taiwan, 11 are found on Yangmingshan. They are easily spotted along the 2.5km trail connecting the Erziping (二子坪) outdoor parking lot and Datun Mountain (大屯山). What draws the fairy insects is the nectar of the eupatorium shimadai, a plant that flowers in the Datun Mountain area.
The best time of the day for butterfly-watching is in the morning. Milkweed butterflies take off in clusters from their bushy homes in the early morning and begin to return in the afternoon. Blue and chestnut tiger butterflies are especially unafraid of humans, making close observation and appreciation easy.
“This is like a cafeteria for them. Butterflies come, stuff themselves and leave,” said Lin Po-chang (林柏昌), secretary-general of the Butterfly Conservation Society of Taiwan.
Seventeen stalls will be set up around the parking lot and along “butterfly road” tomorrow and Sunday, offering information on the insects through educational games, workshops and exhibitions for children and adults. Visitors can join guided tours and watch butterflies in their natural habitat while strolling along the road.
“Each butterfly is an individual,” said Lin. “Some are laid-back, and some are jittery.”
Traffic controls will be in place for the weekend. Visitors can take the No. 260, No. 230, No. 110 or Red 5 (紅5) bus to Yangmingshan National Park and transfer to free shuttle buses to the Erziping parking lot. Cyclists are free to tackle the often steep mountain roads on two wheels.
For those interested in signing up for the guided tours, visit webs.ymsnp.gov.tw/web/butterfly/2009. Or call (02) 2861-6341 X800 or X801.
WHAT: Yangmingshan Butterfly Festival (2009陽明山蝴蝶季)
WHEN: Until July 31
WHERE: The trail connecting Erziping (二子坪) and Datun Mountain (大屯山)
ON THE NET: webs.ymsnp.gov.tw/web/butterfly/2009
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