Annual Butterflies in Bloom at Meijer Gardens
One of my favorite things to do, at the winding down of winter and the birth of spring, is to head to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for the annual Butterflies in Bloom Exhibit. Now, given half a second, I’d drive to Meijer Gardens (located in Grand Rapids, Michigan) for the extraordinary sculptures, gardens, art exhibits, and tropical conservatory (the latter is especially welcome during the cold Michigan winters).
We were at Meijer Gardens a few weeks ago for the Deborah Butterfield exhibit (she creates incredible horse sculptures), and headed to the Conservatory for a bit of warmth and humidity. The Conservatory is overflowing with tropical plants, lush greens and bright colors; a plethora of orchids; a waterfall, stream, and pond; and several birds. That very day, Meijer Gardens had received a shipment of the butterfly chrysalides, pinned to tubes in a glass incubating shed. While we popped in and out of the Conservatory, several of the butterflies had emerged. They took a while to unfold their wings and dry – it was amazing to see this process.
Meijer Gardens imports more than 6,000 tropical butterflies (40 species) and two species of giant silk moth from Africa, Asia, and South and Central America for the exhibit. My butterfly favorites include the Blue Morpho, Julia Longwing, Emerald Swallowtail, Leopard Lacewing, and Clearwing. The two giant silk moth species are the Atlas moth and African Moon Moth. Did you know that butterflies are diurnal, while moths are nocturnal? If you’d like to visit on a Tuesday evening, bring your flashlight and look for wide-awake moths and sleeping butterflies.
The butterflies dine on feeding stations located throughout the Conservatory – they eat ripe fruit and sweet water. You’ll find the feeding stations by the large numbers of kids (and adults) clustered around them, watching the feast.
Butterflies in Bloom will run from March 1 through April 30, 2012. It is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibit in the USA.