Butterfly Vivarium and Greenhouse
The Butterfly Vivarium is a 1,200 sq. ft. x 14 ft. high structure, with ponds, flowers, and plants. It houses monarchs and other native butterfly species in all stages of life. It is a model ecosystem for butterflies and serves as an educational environment. Thousands of students visit the butterfly house every year to learn about plant and animal relationships using the monarch as an educational model.
Visitors to our butterfly house have a number of opportunities: photography, video taping, learn about favorite flowers and host plants for butterflies, viewing butterfly eggs, caterpillars, and sometimes watch butterflies emerge from their pupae, feed fruit to adult butterflies, view mating behavior, and to simply enjoy the beauty and learning about a commonly admired insect living throughout North America. Experienced interpretive specialists are available for giving mini tours and answering questions.
The Monarch Program uses a 2,200 sq. ft. greenhouse area to cultivate host plants for a variety of caterpillars and some flowering plants for adult butterflies. Potted plants are also grown outside the greenhouse near a work area for transplanting, planting seeds, and starting plants from cuttings. The area is also used for storing pots and soil.
Volunteers who assist with cultivating our plants are a valuable asset to our program. Thousands of tropical bloodflower milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) plants are grown to feed caterpillars that are needed for teachers and various educational programs. Aside from our Vivarium, we supply pupae to butterfly houses. Sometimes adult butterflies are released at local special events.
Growing a large number of milkweed plants for over two decades have attracted most all local milkweed pests. There were very few pests during the first several years. After about six years we had to start experimenting with a variety of ways to control infestation of common pests, concentrating on soap and organic pesticides. Our experiments and success through the years can now be shared with the public.