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Botanical garden opens butterfly house

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – An exhibit focusing on all things butterflies is now open at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.

Butterflies and Blooms features an 1,800-square-foot mesh butterfly house with 300 new butterflies arriving each week for a total of 4,500 butterflies throughout the summer.

“On any given day, 500 or more butterflies will be fluttering around for your viewing pleasure,” said Mark Konlock, director of horticulture.

The is the garden’s first year of Butterflies and Blooms, but its already having great success.

“We’ve seen thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds and interests stop by to experience Butterflies and Blooms,” Konlock said.

Throughout the summer, visitors will be able to view and interact with 22 species of butterflies native to Wisconsin and the Midwest including monarchs, painted ladies, swallowtails, tawny emperors, red admirals and many more.

“Whether they are flying around, taking a drink of nectar or nibbling on some fruit, visitors will get the chance to interact with the butterflies – they might even land on you, especially if you’re wearing bright colors,” Konlock said.

The success the gardens had last year with Nature Connects – an exhibit of sculptures made from Lego bricks – launched the idea of Butterflies and Blooms.

“We wanted to keep the momentum going and have another unique experience for visitors far and wide that come to the garden,” Konlock said. “We did some research last fall and determined that having a butterfly exhibit would be an ‘edu-taining’ – mixture of educational and entertaining – experience for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.”

Konlock said what makes Butterflies and Blooms unique is the exhibit’s focus on native butterflies and the plants they love.

“While exotic or tropical butterflies are popular in other butterfly exhibits, we wanted to highlight the wondrous variety of these insects we see in own backyards,” Konlock said.

And it’s not just about butterflies.

“Our goal is to educate people of all kinds on the importance of native pollinators like butterflies, bees, birds and more and why we should help support their population in our own environments.” Konlock said.

The exhibit highlights the importance of the world’s pollinators and their crucial part in the ecosystem.

“Pollinators around the world are in decline and are incredibly important,” Konlock said. “They help pollinate flowers, vegetables, fruits, trees and other plants that provide our food and our air.”

Garden staff hopes those who visit the butterfly garden will come away with a greater appreciation for the pollinators around them.

“If a visitor walks away from their experience in the butterfly house with a little more knowledge on pollinators and an idea to start a pollinator garden in their yard, that’s something to celebrate,” Konlock said.

Just outside the butterfly house, there is a native pollinator garden showcasing a collection of plants people could plant at home to help attract and support pollinators of all kinds.

The interaction doesn’t stop there.

Konlock said from 1 to 3 p.m. daily, visitors have the opportunity to feed the butterflies with feeding sticks.

Visitors can also watch butterflies emerge from their cocoons in their chrysalis chamber.

Throughout the garden, visitors can enjoy a variety of drop-in activities including scavenger hunts, garden discovery boxes, butterfly-themed crafts and more.

The butterfly house is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the cost is included in the gardens’ admission fee.
It runs through Aug. 31.

For more information, visit the botanical garden’s website at gbbg.org/butterflies.

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