Butterfly lollipops are a hot item at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this year. They are not something new on the menu at the food court, but an essential part of the Folk's Butterfly Farm exhibit in the Main Hall.
Everyone who enters the greenhouse that contains thousands of butterflies is given a butterfly lollipop - a cotton Q-tip swab dipped in grape Gatorade.
David Folk, who runs the butterfly farm with his family, instructs each person to hold out the lollipop to a butterfly until it latches on and rests there.
Hands-on: Inside the 75-degree greenhouse, cameras click away, capturing awe on the faces of children and parents alike as butterflies land on the "lollipops" and on their clothing.
This is the second year that Folk's Butterfly Farm, which is in Columbia County, has set up at the farm show, and they estimate that around 2,000 people stopped in each day over opening weekend. That figure is slightly higher than last year, said Kristie Good, David Folk's daughter.
"Now people come back and say they're glad to see us again," Kristie Good said.
Good originally raised and sold butterflies for an FFA project when she was in high school. Her first attempt was a flop because the temperatures were too cool, but her second attempt was a success, and she began selling butterflies she raised for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.
It grew into a family endeavor with her parents and her husband, Eugene Good. They travel to events throughout the state, give educational presentations and welcome field trips to their farm. The butterfly lollipops work well as long as they use "high test" Gatorade and not a low-calorie version, said Kristie Good. In the beginning she tried sugar water, but someone recommended Gatorade and that seems to work even better, she said.
It's OK: Some visitors worry that touching the butterflies will cause them to become injured and unable to fly, but butterflies are resilient. Their wings are made of scales like fish, so the worst thing that could happen is for their coloring to rub off, said Eugene Good. Moths, however, have wings made of powder, and touching their wings does cause permanent damage.
The four species of butterflies native to Pennsylvania in the butterfly house are the Painted Lady, Buckeye, Monarch and Eastern Black Swallowtail. Other types inside are the Zebra Longwing, Julia, Great Southern White and Giant Swallowtails.
Butterflies generally do not fly in weather below 55 degrees, and they do not fly when it's raining, said Eugene Good.
Admission to the butterfly house is $2. For more information, visit www.folksbutterflyfarm.com.
- Reach Chelsea Shank at email@example.com.