Nature museum offers visitors a Butterfly Haven

December 29, 2009 3:29:40 PM PST
It had that feeling of mid-winter Tuesday morning, didn't it? It almost made you want to take flight and head south. But you don't really have to do that, and that's because there is a beautiful tropical paradise in Lincoln Park. We can't avoid it any longer. It's here. Winter. And along the lakefront the boats are out and the ice is in. Ozone action days have been replaced by wind chill, but right across the street from winter is a warm blast of summer in the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. In the Butterfly Haven we can find a touch of heat and humidity heaven. It's over 80 degrees and 80 percent humidity. That's what butterflies like.

"Most of them come from tropical parts of the world. Central and South America, Australia, Asia, and a lot them come from rain forests, so they like high humidity and high heat, and that's what keeps them flying around," said Vincent Olivares, director of arthropods at the museum.

The Butterfly Haven is nothing new. It's been here for 10 years. But this is one of those places that calls you back to visit over and over all these many different fluttering creatures.

"Right now we have about 1,100 butterflies in our exhibit. Every week we bring anywhere from 500-to-700 butterflies from butterfly farms from all over the world," Olivares said. "They die off. Butterflies live only for a few weeks. Some live for a couple of months."

This coming Sunday is "Adopt-a-Butterfly Day" at the Peggy Notebaert Butterfly Haven. For $15 or $20, depending on whether you're member or not, you can adopt a butterfly and then release it. It's one of those fundraisers that brings in a few bucks, but it also gives kids a very special look at nature.

The Butterfly Haven is part of the museum's general admission.

This winter, when cabin fever sets in, go chase a butterfly.


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