Butterfly art project may be sweet for bees

An artwork envisioned for a patch of ground east of Lawrence will tell the story of the birds and the bees – or at least, the butterflies and the bees.

Kansas University professor of ecology Chip Taylor, left, and Lawrence crop artist Stan Herd plan to collaborate on an earthwork of a butterfly at Pendleton's Country Market.

Lawrence crop artist Stan Herd is collaborating with Kansas University in a plan to raise awareness of the loss of habitat for pollinating animals by building a 2-acre earthwork of a butterfly at Pendleton’s Country Market east of Lawrence.

The work should be finished by late June, in time for the U.S. Senate-designated “National Pollinator Week” at the request of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

“I’ve always felt that artwork used properly was a platform for the discussion of issues,” said Herd, who is known internationally for his large-scale artworks built into the landscape.

Herd became involved in the project at the request of Chip Taylor, KU professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, who says that thousands of acres of pollinating animals’ habitat per day are lost to development.

Losing pollinating animals means losing a key part of the ecosystem, Taylor said.

“All the seeds, fruits, nuts and vegetation of all the plants that are supported by these pollinators is food for everything else,” he said.

The earthwork, which will be made using thousands of petunias, will replicate the southern dogface butterfly depicted on one of four “pollination” stamps the U.S. Postal Service will issue this summer.

Taylor said he’s trying to raise about $25,000 in coming weeks for the project. Donations can be submitted online at www.pollinator.org or made by contacting Laurie Adams at (415) 362-1137.