The Butterfly House, a fluttering and elegant escape

The beloved butterfly exhibit is now open to the public.

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Collegian | Lucy Morantz

A butterfly sits on a flower at The Gardens on Spring Creek Butterfly House Sept. 9.

Emmalee Krieg, Staff Reporter

Any butterfly lovers out there? Right here in Fort Collins there’s a hidden gem called the Butterfly House at The Gardens on Spring Creek. Located at 2145 Centre Ave., the gardens have a lot to offer. 

According to its website, the Butterfly House is a joint partnership between the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado, and The Gardens on Spring Creek. Working together, they house hundreds of North American butterflies. Brionna McCumber is the main butterfly keeper for the exhibit at Spring Creek. 

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The Butterfly House was closed for about three months during the initial shutdowns due to COVID-19, and because it had just opened in November 2019, they quickly had to adjust to regulations.

“COVID did play a really big role in figuring out how we wanted to operate the Butterfly House,” McCumber said. 

“The butterfly exhibit is now fully open, including caterpillar displays, adult moth displays and an eye-catching chrysalis chamber with an array of chrysalises.”

Now, they still implement 15-minute time intervals for groups of people to see the butterflies along with the option to wear face masks, something McCumber deemed helpful in keeping the exhibit running safely. 

Since the Butterfly Pavilion is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoo, concerns arose regarding care for the butterflies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mary Ann Colley, COO of the Butterfly Pavilion, emphasized the importance of upkeep.

“We needed to make sure that we were still taking care of the habitat and we were still taking care of the animals within that closure,” Colley said. “Butterfly houses are a place for respite, a place where people can actually get away, so it was particularly difficult for us to close.”

The butterfly exhibit is now fully open, including caterpillar displays, adult moth displays and an eye-catching chrysalis chamber with an array of chrysalises. The research conducted for the pavilion is also an attraction in itself.  

“Most insects aren’t well studied,” McCumber said. “So there’s not a lot of information about most butterfly species.”

By tagging certain butterflies, they’re able to track lifespans and gather more specific data that otherwise is not well studied. With the hundreds of housed butterflies, they created an opportunity for great research.

“We’ll typically have between 15 and 25 different species of butterflies in here at a time,” McCumber said.

Along with the butterflies, the exhibit is home to many plants. Whether it’s voodoo lilies or orchids, guests can see several types of flora at the enclosure.

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“We have a lot of exotic plants here that they wouldn’t see necessarily,” said Vicki Cotton, administrative assistant and community gardens administrator at The Gardens on Spring Creek.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that there is a full-time butterfly house here in Fort Collins,” McCumber said. “It’s a worthwhile place to visit — to learn, you know, a little more about butterflies and insects in general.” 

So head on down to The Gardens on Spring Creek. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of a zebra longwing or an emerald beauty such as the malachite butterfly. But be warned, you will be in pretty close proximity with these elegant insects.  

 Reach Emmalee Krieg at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.