Signs of spring: Hundreds of butterflies arrive at the Cleveland Botanical Garden

More than 600 butterflies will fill the Central American rainforest at the Glasshouse in the Botanical Garden this Saturday, April 3 when the butterflies return mark the beginning of spring.

“The sheer proliferation of butterflies is a memorable experience,” says Jillian Slane, the garden’s director of exhibits and experiences. “You get to interact with them when you walk through the Glasshouse, it’s an unforgettable connection to nature.”

This year, 600 pupae will be released weekly beginning April 3The butterflies come from farms in Florida, Suriname, Ecuador, and Costa Rica, but they are still developing when Holden Forests & Gardens first receive the chrysalises—a hard outer case enclosing the pupae.

After inspection, the pupae are hung upside down in hatching bins where they stay anywhere from a few days to a few weeks until they hatch. When the butterflies dry off their wings, staff members release them into the Glasshouse.

Eight different species of butterfly will be introduced to the exhibit, including the “Postman,” “Giant Owl,” and the “Rusty-Tipped Page,” says Slane, who adds the butterflies have vibrant colors that will catch your eye as they fly around the Glasshouse.

The Glasshouse opened in 2003 in University Circle and the environment is so parallel to a natural rainforest that many of the bird species nest, lay eggs, and raise generations of birds there.

The butterflies are no different. Typically, the staff release 200 to 300 butterflies each week, year-round. But this year, 600 pupae will be released weekly beginning April 3. The process will end in September.

The butterflies’ lifespans differ from species to species but range from three to 12 weeks. In this time, the butterflies explore the Glasshouse—looking for nectar from various flowers and even bananas (provided by the staff).

The mission of Holden Forests & Gardens is “to connect people with the wonder, beauty, and values of tress and plants, to inspire action for healthy communities.”

Blue Morpho ButterflySlane says the releasing of butterflies now is like a celebration of Spring.

“As soon are we reopened in June 2020, we were releasing butterflies into the Glasshouse, but to discourage crowds we were not doing it as a public program where visitors get to watch the release,” Slane admits.

A limited number of guests are allowed admittance each day and face coverings are required both inside and outside.

To also celebrate spring, author Martinique Mims, who wrote the children’s book “Through the Colors of a Butterfly,” will be livestreaming a free interactive Storytime Sunday, April 11 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Registration is required. The Hershey Children’s Garden will also reopen this week for families to enjoy and the garden will debut a moth scavenger hunt for all to enjoy.

Read more articles by Jylian Herring.

Jylian Herring is a current journalism student at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She has previously worked with two student-run campus magazines and is also a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority. She enjoys writing about topics such as social justice and locally owned businesses. When Jylian isn't giving her time to one of her student organizations, she likes to listen to podcasts and try new restaurants.

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