An Edu-taining Experience: How the Butterflies & Blooms Exhibit Fosters Fun in a Learning Environment

By Ta’Leah Van Sistine, Marketing & Communications Intern

Our mission and ultimate goal at Green Bay Botanical Garden is, and has always been, to connect people with plants and to serve as an educational and inspiring horticultural destination. All of our display beds and plant collections are designed to give our visitors inspiration and ideas for their own garden spaces. It is with these same principles in mind that we have built our Butterflies & Blooms exhibit presented by Nature’s Way for two summers in a row.

boy trying to feed butterfly
PC: John Oates Photography

According to a recent Associated Press article, Earth’s entire insect population has declined 27% in 30 years. The declines are found to be worse in North America, and specifically bad in the Midwest where 4% of the region’s bugs are lost every year. For this reason, Butterflies & Blooms shares the same purpose as the rest of the Garden: to show visitors how they can welcome butterflies into their own neighborhoods, yards, gardens and landscapes in a way that restores hope and helps increase butterfly and pollinator populations. After all, without pollinators like butterflies, no seeds are created and without seeds, plants are unable to reproduce.

queen butterflies feeding on flower
A Queen butterfly sits on a sweet almond flower.

Although this summer’s exhibit theme features butterflies from all around North America, there are still several species of butterflies that are native to Wisconsin just like last summer’s exhibit, so you can see exactly what kinds you may find in your own backyard. The butterfly feeding materials, pollinator plants and host plants we have inside and outside the exhibit are available right here in the Green Bay area and can be easily replicated at your own home to create a butterfly sanctuary. Our Facebook titled “How to Attract Butterflies at Home” explains what type of foods and drinks we put out in the butterfly house and what flowers and host plants we provide for the butterflies both in and around the exhibit as well. 

malachite butterflies feeding on bananas
Malachite butterflies eat bananas in one of the butterfly house’ fruit bowls.

As a new addition to Butterflies & Blooms this year, our Education Interns often staffs a table right behind the butterfly house where different resources and activities are offered on a daily basis. Sometimes there are take-home crafts for kids to continue learning about pollinators at home, such as “Make Your Own Butterfly Feeder” and “Pom Pom Pollinator.” The table also has a variety of educational tools, including magnifying glasses, that allow you to view preserved butterflies and see their scaled wings up close.

Blue interpretive signs like the one in the picture below are also around the exhibit and on our website to provide in-depth information for our visitors about butterfly behavior, the butterfly life cycle, pollinator gardens and the importance of pollinators.

blue interpretive signs in butterfly house
One of our blue interpretive signs in last year’s Butterflies & Blooms exhibit.

It is disheartening to think about Earth’s declining insect and pollinator populations, but it’s not too late to support these creatures and work to reverse this downward trend. One citizen scientist named Ann Swengel said she and her husband counted 3,848 monarch butterflies on a cloudy day in Wisconsin — a sign of hope that efforts to provide habitats and sanctuaries for these beauties can truly help.

For more information on how to attract butterflies to your own home, read our Build a Butterfly Sanctuary blog, and for information on where to buy native flowers and how to design a pollinator garden, go to GBBG.org/Butterflies.

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