Another sanctuary for the conservation of butterflies, especially monarch butterflies, has been established at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Faust Park. A local outdoor butterfly garden, Angel Tree Grove, was recently dedicated, and with it a new public art installation titled “Heavenly Connection: Young Woman with Cherub.”
For years, the statue has been located in the family home of Chesterfield resident Rob Kellow. It was pinned to a tree trunk in the yard. Kilo said he was not sure when the statue was placed there, but it had been there so long that a branch grew around the statue to cover the angel’s arm.
When the decision was made to donate the statue, the more than 40-foot-tall white oak tree had to be cut down so that part of the tree could be salvaged and moved to the Butterfly House, Kilo said.
Slices of tree trunks were also taken to use as a “stone” path to reach the orchard. One slide is hand-painted and features a cardinal and a butterfly in memory of Kilo’s mother and grandmother. His mother, known as “Grammy June,” loved visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden and Butterfly House. She also loved birds and butterflies, especially the monarch butterfly.
Kilo said John used to take the family to the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Butterfly House, which is any place with butterflies, insects or birds. His grandmother Esther Grebe, known to younger generations as Great Gram, would go with them.
So, it was natural for Kilo to approach the Butterfly House and propose creating a butterfly sanctuary there, as well as a statue in memory of the orchard. The staff “worked tirelessly to make this vision a reality,” he said.
The September 13 ribbon cutting was attended by a large crowd of family and friends, representatives of the Chesterfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, city officials, environmental activists, and those familiar with Kilo’s other butterfly-themed gift to the city, the 9-foot-tall Monarch Grove . A monarch butterfly sculpture by artist Glory Hartsfield was installed in Central Park in honor of June earlier this year.
“It was a beautiful display,” Kilo said of the park’s unveiling.
Angel Tree Grove features native pollinator plants, including milkweed for monarch butterflies. There are two areas decorated with purple and red lighting for sitting and contemplation.
The park is registered with Monarch Watch (monarchwatch.org) as a “Monarch Waystation”. As such, it is part of the Monarch Waystation Registry, a global effort to conserve monarch butterflies by providing milkweed, nectar sources and nearby shelter.
According to Monarch Watch, the annual migration of hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies in the United States and Canada to the mountains in central Mexico and back each fall and spring is “one of the world’s great natural wonders.” However, it is threatened by habitat loss in its wintering areas in Mexico and throughout its breeding areas in the United States and Canada.
Monarch Waystations help offset the loss of wild nectar sources, due to herbicide use and land development, by providing a place where June’s favorite butterfly species can rest, lay eggs and feed.
Kilo says a similar station in Monarch Grove has already produced 30 to 50 larvae. Caterpillars are starting to spread into Angel Tree Grove as well.
According to Monarch Watch, creating a Monarch Waystation can be as simple as adding milkweed and nectar sources to existing gardens or maintaining natural habitat with milkweed.
Additionally, Angel Tree Grove is registered and recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
The central feature of the Butterfly House is an 8,000-square-foot conservatory where visitors mingle with more than 60 species of the world’s most beautiful butterflies in free flight. This month, Butterfly House celebrates its silver anniversary (25 years). Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with admission rates of $8 per adult (ages 13-64) and $5 for children (ages 3-12) and seniors. St. Louis City and County residents can enjoy free admission from 10 a.m. to noon on the first Tuesday of every month.
“This newly renovated section of the original outdoor Butterfly Garden supports the mission of the Butterfly House as we work to raise awareness about creating habitats for pollinators,” said Director Jennifer Molex. “We appreciate the continued support of the Rob Kilo family for the June Grammy Awards,” said Director Jennifer Molex. “That’s during the recent expansion of our entomology lab, the Great Gram Esther Grebe.”