Ladew Gardens will soon be opening a new butterfly house.

The first of its kind in the region, the butterfly house will showcase native plants as well as the native butterflies and caterpillars that depend on them for food and shelter, according to Ladew officials.

Construction is in progress for the new addition to the popular gardens off Jarrettsville Pike in Monkton.

Located in the Ladew meadow, the butterfly house is being built with greenhouse framing material and covered with a fine mesh, which secures the butterflies, while enabling them to live among elements of their natural habitat.

Sitting in a meadow, that's exactly what it looks like, a large greenhouse frame with a dark cover, rather than clear plastic or glass.

All species of butterflies and caterpillars in the butterfly house are native species caught around the grounds at Ladew, as are the plants inside the structure.

Ladew Gardens officials say the butterfly house will provide an up-close, educational experience on the natural history and life cycle of several butterfly species.

"Our goal is to showcase butterflies and caterpillars in stressing the importance of the interrelationship between plants, insects, people and wildlife," explained Sheryl Pedrick, Ladew's education director, during a tour of the butterfly house Monday afternoon. "People need to recognize caterpillars if they want to encourage different varieties of butterflies to their garden and also need to recognize different types of weeds that caterpillars need as host plants for feeding. Those are some of the main things we are trying to stress with the butterfly house."

A soft opening of the butterfly house is slated for this Saturday, July 19, with daily hours planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Pedrick said the butterfly house will continue to be a work in progress.

In the coming weeks, she said, they expect the plantings will stabilize and the butterfly population will grow in time for the culminating event on Saturday, Sept. 6, Ladew's annual Children's Day event, which has a theme this year entitled A Celebration of Butterflies & Caterpillars.

"The butterfly house will illustrate the importance of plant and animal relationships in nature, as well as encourage native plant gardening and protecting native, wild habitats," Pedrick said in an earlier statement. "It provides a unique and engaging learning experience for everyone — young and old, alike."

"As stewards of an historic garden, Ladew is committed to sustainable gardening practices," Pedrick said. "With the rise of colony collapse disorder in the honeybee population and the decline of the monarch butterfly, it is incumbent upon environmental educators to teach the next generation about the interaction between plants and insects."

The new butterfly house is the ideal opportunity to expand the public's understanding of the beneficial role of insects, including the vital role they play in plant pollination and in the food chain, she added.

Admission to Ladew Gardens, which includes the butterfly house, the gardens and the nature walk, is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 62 and older and students and $4 for children ages 2 to 12. Members and children under $2 are admitted free. There is an additional $3 charge for a guided tour of the manor house.

The new butterfly house at Ladew Gardens is made possible in part through the generosity of the Middendorf Foundation, Inc.

For more information, call the Ladew Office at 410-557-9570 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday) or visit http://www.LadewGardens.com.

Ladew Topiary Gardens has been named "One of the Top 5 Gardens in North America," called "the Most Outstanding Topiary Garden in America" by the Garden Club of America and featured as one of "10 Incredible Topiary Gardens around the World" by Architectural Digest.