Come see live butterflies at the Botanical Conservatory! This annual exhibit is only open in the spring and early summer, but the experience is worth the wait! This year (2024), the exhibit will be open from April 16 to June 23. General admission lets you see both the butterflies and the rest of the gardens.

Color in Motion

There will be about 15 different species of butterflies featured in the Conservatory’s exhibit this year. Butterflies arrive as chrysalises and are incubated at the conservatory until they hatch into winged wonders. These are exotic butterflies native to Africa, South Asia, and Central and South America. According to Amanda Amstutz of Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, “Over 2,000 butterflies will star in this year’s exhibit!”

Experiencing the Color

The best time to come for the most butterfly action is on a sunny day in late morning or mid-to-late afternoon. As it gets warmer, the butterflies become more active in the special tent which houses them at the Conservatory. “Come a week or so after the exhibit opens and a week or so before the exhibit closes,” Amstutz suggests.

Butterfly on Pink Hibiscus

A butterfly rests on a pink hibiscus blossom - photo by L. Danielson

Winged Helpers

Because these butterflies are non-native, special care is taken by the Conservatory staff and volunteers to make sure that butterflies do not escape and become invasive to Indiana. This is why volunteers with butterfly nets are stationed at the entrance and exit vestibules of the tent. Butterflies like to hide on clothing, purses, hats and jackets, and the volunteers help to check visitors for hitchhikers. If a butterfly makes a dash for an open doorway, the volunteers help it return to its friends in the butterfly tent.

Who Can Experience the Butterflies?

“All are welcome!” said Amstutz, “There is no age limit for visiting the live butterfly tent.” 

Butterfly Encounters

Do you want a butterfly to land on you? Then stay calm and wait patiently for the butterflies to notice you and to decide to take a rest by landing on you. “Take in the moment and look closely at the butterfly without touching its wings,” Amstutz advises.

If you want the butterfly to leave, gently blow towards it, or tickle its feet. Amazingly, just disturbing the butterfly in this gentle way is enough to help it decide to leave. It also protects the tiny feathers on the butterfly’s wings, so that it can fly away to greet a new visitor.