It may not feel like Spring in many parts of Michigan, but a day trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park can help Michiganders with “Spring Fever!” The Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory is aflutter with gorgeous, colorful winged creatures during the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition which is open now through April 30, 2022. This is the 27th year of this amazing event!
When you enter the 5-story, 15,000-square foot glass house you’ll be greeted with temperatures of 85 degrees and exotic foliage and flowers like orchids and banana plants. Lose yourself in beautiful rock landscapes and the hypnotic waterfall. Sixty different species of butterflies fly freely around the conservatory. You will find them grouped around feeding stations and flower clusters and resting beneath leaves. Like humans, butterflies are especially active on sunny days.
Be on the lookout for the bright blue Common Morpho, the regal yellow and black Emperor Swallowtail, and the stunning red, white, and black Doris Longwing! These “flying flowers” are sure to delight people of all ages.
Visitors can check out the Caterpillar Room to watch learn about the lifecycle of the Monarch butterfly. The black and yellow caterpillars feast on milkweed, then form a chrysalis. A chrysalis is the cocoon-like exoskeleton that safeguards the growing butterfly underneath. When a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, it is called metamorphosis. Fun fact #1: A moth makes a cocoon; a butterfly makes a chrysalis.
In the Observation Station, butterflies come out of chrysalides every day. The butterflies need to wait until their wings dry before they can fly. Staff is on-hand to release the butterflies in the open conservatory when they are ready.
Every Tuesday night through April 30, 2022, the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory hosts Tuesday Night Lights. They welcome visitors to bring a flashlight to search for butterflies until 9 PM. Fun fact #2: Butterflies don’t sleep, although they do rest. They don’t have eyelids, so they tuck themselves in crevices and hide beneath foliage.
Let’s keep the fun facts rolling! Butterflies use their antennae to “smell” because they don’t have a nose. Butterflies are drinkers, not eaters. (As opposed to when they were caterpillars.) They use a straw-like proboscis to sip their food, then they roll it up and tuck it under their chin until the next time they’re ready for another meal! You may wonder if the butterfly can taste with their proboscis. No way! Butterflies “taste” with their feet, of course! They have miniscule organs on their feet that sense the chemical signature of whatever they land on. That’s how they are signaled if something is edible.
Discover the amazing world of butterflies and plan a day trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park! The Butterflies are Blooming exhibit ends April 30th, but there is always something to see and do throughout the year. They are open 362 days a year, closing only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
For Spring Break, the conservatory will be open until 9 PM from April 4th — 8th, 2022. Regular hours are Sunday 11 AM — 5 PM, Monday 9 AM — 5 PM, Tuesday 9 AM — 9 PM, Wednesday through Saturday 9 AM — 5 PM. The park is located at 1000 E. Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
If you love butterflies, tell me which one is your favorite in the comments!