I’ve always admired the beauty and grace of butterflies. Who doesn’t? But until I did a little research for this blog, I didn’t spend much time thinking about what those butterflies are doing as they flutter about their business, besides providing me with a flash of nature’s charm. I discovered those graceful movements are keeping them alive. Butterflies are very near-sighted like most insects, so they need to rely on their other senses for food, to mate and to avoid their enemies. Did you know that butterflies have a great sense of smell even though they don’t have a nose? They have sense receptors in their antennae, their feet and other parts of their body. They hear sounds through their wings, and they taste with their feet. Isn’t that crazy? I’ll never look at a butterfly the same way again. With all this new knowledge, I can’t wait to visit the Butterflies of Malaysia Exhibit coming to Fort Wayne’s Botanical Conservatory. This butterfly display, from April 14 – July 8, will feature butterflies from Southeast and Central Asia, along with the Asian countries of Australia, Burma, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Asian butterflies are well known for their magnificent wingspans ranging from 3 to 6 inches and sometimes up to 8 inches! The butterflies will be under an enclosed canopy in the Conservatory. You can go inside and stroke their wings and let them land gently on your finger. Or, just have a seat on a bench and observe the habits and the movements of these amazing insects. You can even watch them hatch at the Emergence Laboratory as they come out from the chrysalises to begin their lives as adult butterflies. After you carefully leave the tent with the help of an attendant, who will make sure you don’t take any butterflies home with you on your clothes, you and the kids can enjoy hands-on activities that will help you learn more about the natural world experienced by a butterfly. And don’t forget to explore the gardens before you leave. In the demonstration beds outside the tent, visitors will be able to observe horticultural plantings and techniques for late spring and summer flowers such as ageratum, begonias, butterfly bush, caladium, coleus, croton, dianthus, gerbera daisies, kalanchoe, petunias, primula, oxalis, salvia, sabiosia, stock, verbena, and many other plants for our Midwestern climate. W0w - it’s time for me to do some more research because I have no idea what most of those flowers are! The Desert Garden and Tropical Garden will also be open for your enjoyment as well, and admission to the entire building is the regular Conservatory fee of $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 3 – 7, and children 2 and under are free. For more information about the Botanical Conservatory visit www.botanicalconservatory.org. For much more information and pictures of butterflies, take a look at this fascinating site: www.learnaboutbutterflies.com.