Get Eye-to-Eye with Butterflies
Although tropical "flying flowers" are in abundance at butterfly houses, there are a few ways to make sure you see the most butterflies possible. (To find a butterfly house near you, see the state-by-state list at the link below.)
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy in Key West, Florida; the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa offer these tips. They'll help you enjoy the butterfly house experience without interfering with the delicate ecosystems of these beautiful and exotic creatures.
- Arrive before 4 p.m. Butterflies are "solar-powered," so they're most active from morning to midafternoon.
- Visit during on a weekday when crowds are smaller.
- Wear red, pink or purple. Butterflies are attracted to these colors.
- Bring your camera or close-viewing binoculars, but leave tripods at home to avoid obstructing crowded pathways.
- Do not touch the butterflies. They're quite fragile and their wings are easily damaged.
- Keep your voice at a conversational level. Butterflies are frightened by loud sounds.
- Watch where you step. Butterflies frequently perch on the pathways. Check the path in front of you for resting or basking butterflies.
- If you are quiet and do not handle them, one of the butterflies might land on you. Enjoy the experience!
- Do not pick the flowers. They're the butterflies' food!
- Check for butterfly "hitchhikers" before you exit. Butterflies can land on you and catch a ride as you leave.
- Check entrances and exits for signs. Signs may instruct you not to open both doors of the vestibule at the same time-this will help contain the butterflies within their exhibit.
Many butterfly houses also provide an area where guests can watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. In fact, the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven in Chicago's Notebaert Nature Museum receives nearly 1,000 chrysalises a week, which ensures that new butterflies emerge daily.
In addition to permanent butterfly exhibits, museums, zoos, botanical gardens and park districts often host temporary or seasonal exhibits of native butterflies. You'll find a list of institutions that host North American butterfly exhibits on The Butterfly Conservation Initiative's Web site (link below).
The Butterfly Site
The Butterfly Conservation Initiative