Where The Butterflies Are

You wouldn't leap into the gorilla cage at the zoo, and you probably wouldn't risk feeding raw meat to a pride of lions. But at butterfly exhibits across the country the specimens are all around you, resting on your shoulder, even eating from your hand.

This experience has become more and more popular as zoos and museums across the U.S. open their own butterfly-filled interactive exhibits. So if you can't get to the Milwaukee Public Museum's Puelicher Butterfly Exhibit, there is bound to be a location close by where you can soar with the butterflies.

Butterfly Exhibits

The Bronx Zoo Butterfly Zonecolor>
Back after a successful run last summer, the Butterfly Zone at the Bronx Zoo has nearly 1,000 beautiful butterflies and magnificent moths in an award-winning exhibit shaped like a 170-foot-long caterpillar. Just outside this tented habitat, you can explore a butterfly garden and learn how to attract the winged insects to your garden. The exhibit runs from now until Oct. 1.

Butterflies in Spacecolor>
Even in outer space plants need pollinators. See the preserved butterflies that flew in space as part of a successful space shuttle experiment that showed butterflies could complete their life cycle in micro-gravity. The exhibit is at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatorycolor>
Not far from Niagara Falls, the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens in Canada are home to one of North America's largest collections of free flying butterflies. This year-round exhibit showcases a wide variety of butterflies from around the world living in a lush rain forest-like environment. A network of pathways allows visitors a rare opportunity to watch numerous species of butterflies floating majestically among nectar producing flowers.

Natural History Museum in Los Angelescolor>
A kaleidoscope of color fills the air in the Museum's specially designed Pavilion of Wings. Stroll through a beautifully landscaped enclosed area filled with hundreds of live, free-flying butterflies. More than 20 species of butterflies from across the U.S. can be seen, such as the giant swallowtail, monarch and American painted lady. The exhibit runs through Sept 4.

The Butterfly Placecolor>
The Butterfly Place in Branson, Missouri is a live indoor exhibit designed for the propagation and development of some of nature's most colorful living creations. At any given time, up to 2,000 buttrflies representing 50 or more different species are there from around the world, although butterflies native to Southern Missouri are often featured.

The Monteverde Butterfly Gardencolor>
To get the true butterfly experience, try Costa Rica. The Monteverde Butterfly Garden is in the scenic Tilaran Mountains, with incredible views of a cloud forest and the Gulf of Nicoya. The focus here is environmental education. Thousands of butterfly enthusiasts visit the Nature Center and four enclosed butterfly gardens each year. About 50 local butterfly species are raised by hand here to keep the gardens blooming with life.

Outdoor Butterfly Gardens

Zilker Butterfly Garden and Trailcolor>
Part of the Zilker Botanical Garden, the Butterfly Garden and Trail have been filled with local flowers and plants which attract numerous species of Texas butterflies. The result is a garden that provides visitors with a view of many of Austin's attractive species as well as migrating varieties. Tour guides explain the interaction between insects and plants in an ecosystem.

Wellfleet Bay Butterfly Gardencolor>
Located in Massachusetts' Welfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the butterfly garden was developed to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Wildflowers, herbs, annuals and perennials are chosen for their colors, nectars and nutrients. Staff naturalists keep an official count of butterfly species visiting the sanctuary, and recent sightings are posted.

The Lake and Hills Garden Club Butterfly Gardencolor>
The temperate South Carolina weather provides a nurturing year-round environment for butterflies as well as a lovely place for people to observe them. The Butterfly Garden is maintained by the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities of Clemson University. The staff has put together a list of common plants, including black-eyed susans, butterfly bush and purple cornflower, that will attract butterflies to your garden.