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Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tudek Park

The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden comprises three acres of Ferguson Township’s Tom Tudek Memorial Park. At 91.5 acres, Tudek is the Township’s largest park, with 30 acres of active recreation area and 61.5 acres of passive parkland. A place of extraordinary beauty, Tudek also features community gardens, shared use paths, horse pastures, and a dog park – making it like no other park in the area. 

Its butterfly garden is a diverse ecosystem featuring more than 200 species of native plants that serve as caterpillar hosts and provide nectar for adult butterflies. As such, this natural habitat is home to more than 30 species of butterflies that migrate to it. In a way, the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden is a “butterfly highway.”

Located on a former agricultural field, the garden serves as an “outdoor classroom” with Master Gardener demonstration gardens that highlight pollinator- friendly gardening practices. Youth and school groups, gardeners, photographers, researchers and thousands of people of all ages visit the gardens each year. Individuals and volunteer groups serve as stewards of their respective garden plots.

The late Dr. Robert “Butterfly Bob” Snetsinger, professor emeritus of entomology at Penn State, created this garden with his wife Wendy in memory of their late daughter Clare – working in partnership with the Tudek Trust, Ferguson Township and Centre Region Parks and Recreation. In 2007, the Centre County Master Gardener Program joined this partnership to work with Dr. Snetsinger to develop and maintain this natural habitat as a major educational resource for the community. Since that time, additional partners have provided outreach support while using the site to conduct research or educational activities. Those partners have included Penn State’s Frost Entomological Museum, Center for Pollinator Research, and Shavers Creek Environmental Center, among others.

Each spring, the Master Gardeners and other community stewards spend Arbor Day and other weekends removing invasive species. 

Each summer, the Master Gardeners host educational events to introduce people of all ages to the butterfly garden and promote pollinators. 

Snetsinger Butterfly Garden and its home, Tom Tudek Memorial Park, share a story that illustrates the role such facilities play in the life and health of a community. They represent the preservation of farmland that almost fell into the lap of a developer intent on building a shopping mall. And they represent two families – the Snetsingers and their close friends, Robert and Elsie Tudek – who sought to preserve this land for future children in memory of their own, Clare Snetsinger and Tom Tudek. Both 17 when they died, they were friends who loved butterflies from the time they were very young. 

With its natural vegetation and infiltrative qualities, the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden inherently has the qualities of a stormwater management system. As a sanctuary in a park that brings people and pollinators together via shared walking and bike paths, playgrounds and picnic pavilions, the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden serves as a fundamental facility and interrelated ecosystem that is essential to sustaining and enhancing life in Ferguson Township.

Photo Galleries

Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, July 2016
Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, July 2015
Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, July 2014

Wings in the Park, 2017
Wings in the Park, 2016
Wings in the Park, 2015
Wings in the Park, 2014