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Meijer Gardens' butterfly exhibition highlights patterns found in nature

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Escape into a living kaleidoscope as thousands of butterflies fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory March 1 through April 30.

/Citrus Swallowtail - photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Exhibition Activities

“Who Am I?” A Butterfly Ballet 

Saturdays, March 4 OR 18, 10 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. 

Fee: $5 members/$8 non-members; Free for ages 2 years and younger

Choreographed by Attila Mosolygo, performed by members of the Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company and narrated by Errol Shewman
Developed in collaboration with Grand Rapids Ballet, this unique performance highlights characteristics of butterflies through dance. Don’t miss this thoroughly delightful butterfly ballet. Told through the eyes of a newly emerged butterfly, the story will captivate young and old alike. With colorful costumes, spectacular music and exquisite choreography, this enchanting performance will provide a unique and memorable experience. Participate in interactive dance activities before the performance  and take advantage of photo-ops on stage with the dancers afterward. Register online at or call 616-975-3144. An American Sign Language interpreter will be provided for the 10 a.m. performance on March 18 (Reservations for this service are required, please call 616-975-3144 by March 17).


Children’s Activities

Saturday, March 1-Wednesday, April 30, daylight hours only

Lena Meijer Children’s Garden 

Included with admission 

Once you have observed caterpillars in the Seasonal Display Greenhouse and butterflies in the Tropical Conservatory, come out to the Children’s Garden for engaging outdoor educational events. Enjoy activities such as flying like a butterfly in clever life cycle costumes, performing imaginative butterfly puppet shows, search for butterfly and moth life cycle stages in a special Treehouse Village hunt and navigate the Butterfly Maze. There is something for all ages. Activities vary daily; check the Information Center for times. 


Tuesday Night Lights
Included with admission
Bring your flashlight on Tuesday nights until 9 pm to see the nightlife in the Tropical Conservatory.  

/Tailed Jay - photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

/Tree Nymph - photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition will bring more than 7,000 tropical butterflies to West Michigan beginning March 1. Arriving from Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, Butterflies Are Blooming is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. 

Nature is full of striking artistic patterns, appearing naturally on chrysalides, caterpillars, butterfly wings, flowers, foliage and more. At this year’s exhibition, gain an appreciation for the mysterious and awe-inspiring patterns that reveal themselves effortlessly in nature.

Approximately 60 colorful species will fly freely in the five-story, 15,000 square-foot Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. At 85 degrees and 70 percent humidity, this balmy environment mimics tropical regions that the butterflies call home. 

Species of butterflies expected to arrive include the blue Common Morpho, whose iridescence impresses in flight; and brushfoot varieties like the Clearwing, Lacewing and Zebra Mosaic. Likewise, the Longwings captivate with distinctive patterns as seen in the Small Blue Grecian, Doris, Postman and Tiger butterflies. Gliders like the Emperor, Ruby-spotted and Tropical Swallowtails will also add to the diverse assortment. 

“Our exhibition this year celebrates shape and pattern,” explained Steve LaWarre, Director of Horticulture. “The butterflies and the natural environment of the conservatory are wonderful examples of how these patterns reveal themselves all around us. This exhibition provides a superb opportunity for our guests to view caterpillars, wings, flowers and foliage with a renewed appreciation for the world around us.”

More than 1,000 pupae arrive at Meijer Gardens weekly. Visitors can watch as delicate chrysalides and cocoons are placed in the Butterfly Bungalow, where adult butterflies and moths emerge and spread their wings for the first time. The Caterpillar Room, located within the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse, features Monarch caterpillars.  Visitors can watch as the caterpillars feed on milkweed plants and after two weeks of tremendous growth, the caterpillars will look for a suitable place to form their chrysalides.  

This much-loved exhibition attracts more than 170,000 visitors from all over the world each year.  

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