Gaston & Catawba

Coming to town soon: 1,200 live butterflies!

More than 1,200 live butterflies will fill The Orchid Conservatory this fall, when Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden unveils “Something's A-Flutter” this month.

The live exhibit, Sept. 27 through Nov. 9, will include eight species from across the Southeast.

Visitors will learn about the colorful creatures – from metamorphosis to migration – as well as anatomy, lifecycle, what it takes for butterflies to survive and how to lure the insects to home gardens.

Seasonal nectar plants and nutrient-filled puddling stations will support the conservatory's butterfly population.

Garden officials planned to hold a butterfly exhibit in the glass conservatory from the time the building was being designed.

“What makes this special is, it gives us the opportunity to make a connection between the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom,” garden marketing director Jim Hoffman said. “People can come to the exhibit just because they enjoy seeing butterflies that are colorful, graceful and pretty, but they also can come to learn about how to create a butterfly garden at home.”

During the exhibit, live butterflies will be released at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Saturday.

“When the butterflies are delivered to us, they're kept cool so they won't fly away,” said Hoffman. “We can place the butterfly in the guest's hand, and as it warms up and gets air in its wings, it will fly off. It's a way to give an up-close and personal touch to the exhibit.”

In addition to the live butterfly releases, patrons can watch butterflies emerge from a chrysalis housed in a glass case.

“Butterflies have a window of just about 15 minutes to emerge from the chrysalis before their wings dry out, and they won't be able to free themselves,” Hoffman said.

Other exhibits await throughout the rest of the garden.

Interpretative panels and plant labels will be placed along the Butterfly Trail. Hands-on demonstrations and displays are planned at Butterfly Discovery Stations throughout the garden on Saturdays.

On Sept. 26, families are invited to attend the Bug Ball, a costume gala that will benefit the garden's educational programs. Tickets start at $25.

The second annual Fall Family Festival, the official public opening for the exhibit, will follow Sept. 27-28. Many children's activities are planned.

“People are discovering that they can have a really engaging, fulfilling, memorable experience here, whether it's at a special event or coming here for a Saturday picnic,” said Hoffman.