MISSION — Butterfly enthusiasts and birders from around the world wanting to enjoy the sights of gardens, rare plants, blooming flowers and the view of multiple rare butterflies flying in the park can visit the only outdoor large scale butterfly park in the world located in Mission.

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) International Butterfly Park is dedicated to education, conservation and scientific research on wild butterflies. It was built in 2003 and stands on top of 100 acres of land. The North American Butterfly Association, located in New Jersey started the park. The actual butterfly park stands in four acres.

“There are many butterfly houses and museums and parks that are tented, but there is no outdoor free large scale nature park built specifically for conservation of butterflies in the world,” said Carol Goolsby, education coordinator for the butterfly park.

Goolsby said the park was built in South Texas because this is where more species of butterflies are seen in the United States. There are only three areas in the United States in which the latitude line goes beneath the south tropic zone - South Florida, South Texas and Hawaii.

“In order to get butterflies, it is dependent on which plant species the area has,” she said.

The park has over 100 specific butterfly host plants, specifically for different butterflies. In a given day, over fifty different species of butterflies can be seen flying around the park.

Goolsby said a rare plant community demonstration is in the works. The re-vegetation of the most threatened plant communities in the Valley are recreated for visitors to enjoy.

“We are recreating one of the communities of plant so people will be able to recognize what once was here,” she said.

More than a few thousand visitors from all over the world come to the park to witness rare, beautiful colored butterflies that flock to the park each year. The park also features butterfly walks led by the Butterfly Park’s Naturalist, Javier DeLeon every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Admission to the butterfly park is Adults $5, seniors $3, Children $1, group tours $5 per person.

Hours to the park are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, except on major holidays. The park is located on Butterfly Park Drive, off “old” Military Road a mile off the Bentsen Rio Grande State Park and the headquarters for the World Birding Center. For more information call (956) 583-9009.