GLENCOE, Ill. (April 17, 2013) – The popular Butterflies & Blooms exhibition returns for its second season on May 25. Visitors are immersed in a tropical habitat full of hundreds of colorful butterflies interacting with plant life. Butterflies & Blooms features butterflies from around the world, including South America, Asia, North America, and Africa, as well as those native to Illinois. Volunteers are also on hand to answer questions. The 2,800-square-foot white mesh enclosure is located on the lawn of the Learning Campus.
Courtney Quigley, seasonal assistant horticulturist in the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition, says her favorite part about coming to work each day is that it’s constantly changing. “Every week there are different plants blooming and new species of butterflies emerging,” Quigley said.
Up to 500 butterflies can be seen on most visits. Visitors can also observe butterflies emerging through a window into the pupa emergence room. In addition to the native butterflies we commonly see in the area such as monarchs (Danaus plexippus), visitors will find exotic butterflies such as the blue morpho (Morpho peleides), owl butterfly (Caligo memnon) and emerald swallowtail (Papilio palinurus). The Blooms portion of the exhibition will feature nectar plants such as hummingbird sage (Salvia coccinea), ‘Citrus Blend’ lantana (Lantana camara), sweet almond verbena (Aloysia virgata), star flower (Pentas lanceolata), and firebush (Hamelia patens). While these plants are considered annuals in our area, they will provide the tropical nectar necessary to make the butterflies feel right at home.
Butterflies and moths make up a large group of insects known as the order Lepidoptera. The name derives from the Greek lepido or scale, and ptera or wings, and refers to the tiny scales that cover the wings and the rest of the body. Butterflies and moths live almost everywhere around the world, from the Arctic tundra to tropical rain forests. There are more than 18,000 species of butterflies in the world and approximately 150 butterflies live in Illinois.
Butterflies are drawn to the fresh scent of newly opened flowers. They use their proboscis (straw-like structure) to drink the nectar, which is their primary, or preferred, food source. Specific butterflies are attracted to specific flowering plants for nectar. Some butterflies actually drink the juice of rotten or decomposing fruit.
New this year is the opportunity to rent Butterflies & Blooms for a private photography session in the exhibition. From 8:15 to 9:15 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday, June 8 through August 22, groups of up to 20 people have exclusive access to the butterfly exhibition before it opens to the public at 10 a.m. Tripods are only allowed in the exhibition during a private rental. Cost is $300 per group and includes parking. Call (847) 835-6801.
Exhibition hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (weather permitting) through September 2. The exhibition will close at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 21, for the Summer Dinner Dance, a benefit supporting the Garden’s conservation, education and research programs.
Cost is $6 for adults; $5 seniors; $4 children (3-12). Members receive $1 discount off these rates; Garden Plus members are free on Wednesdays. A ten-visit pass to the exhibition is available for $45; members receive $5 discount off this rate. Butterflies & Blooms is made possible through the generous support of The Grainger Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois.
Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/butterflies for more information.