A new exhibit takes flight this spring at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Unlike many at the popular attraction, this experience does not include scales or fins. Yet, it continues the Aquarium’s mission of inspiring conservation and appreciation of the natural world.
Visitors to the new Butterfly Bungalow delight in the beauty of hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world. Through the encounter, guests gain a better understanding of the importance of butterflies and other insect pollinators.
“The Butterfly Bungalow and garden offers guests a wonderful, immersive experience,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. “You can’t help but smile when a butterfly floats by or lands on your shoulder. We hope it also engages our visitors in learning more about how they can help protect pollinators like bees and butterflies that are in crisis around the world.”
The grand opening event, Saturday, April 5, includes a butterfly release planned for 11 a.m. Visitors receive free, native butterfly plants to take home (while supplies last). The New Hanover County Cooperative Extension’s Ability Garden will assist in the opening day celebration.
Butterfly Bungalow and garden begins at a pupa house where visitors view the chrysalis stage of the insects’ life cycle, when the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly occurs. A path then winds through an ocean-friendly, native-butterfly garden leading to the entrance of the Butterfly Bungalow.
Inside the Butterfly Bungalow, a greenhouse-like enclosure, hundreds of exotic butterflies fly free and land on tropical plants and, occasionally, on visitors’ heads, arms and noses. Species inside the enclosure will vary but visitors may see vibrant blue morphos (Morpho peleides) native to Latin America, emerald swallowtails (Papilio palinurus) or red lacewings (Cethosia biblis), both found in Asia, among many others.
The Aquarium transformed an empty, grassy area adjacent to the main parking lot into the exhibit space, including the garden and 1,800 square foot enclosure. The Butterfly Bungalow is a temporary exhibit and will remain open only until October 2014. Plans for the exhibit began more than 18 months ago, with construction of the temporary structure and garden started in fall of 2013.
Tickets for the exhibit are $3, general Aquarium admission is additional.