Every year, sometime between the cool early spring mornings and the dense humid summer afternoons, you'll see the first butterfly of the season. It usually comes as bit of a surprise, almost as if we had forgotten that a thing so fantastical, so unlikely, so precarious as a brightly colored bit of wings fluttering on the breeze, could exist. It's no wonder children are fascinated by butterflies.
If your little ones (and, let's be honest-maybe you, too) love butterflies, then give them an afternoon they'll never forget with a visit to one of South Carolina's many enclosed butterfly exhibits. Instead of waiting and hoping to see one or two butterflies flutter by, an enclosed butterfly exhibit gives visitors the chance to see dozens-even hundreds-of butterflies and moths up close and all around. The exhibits are sometimes enclosed patios, sometimes large, free-standing buildings. What they all have in common are lots of lush flowers, warm air and protection from birds who would love to feast on the delicate butterflies, moths and caterpillars. And of course, the butterflies. Lots of butterflies and moths, in all phases of their life cycle, from eggs, through larva, pupa and the enchanting adults.
Stepping into an enclosed butterfly exhibit can even be a bit overwhelming, but in a good way. There are butterflies and brightly colored moths everywhere. They fly thickly through the air and land on everything, including people. If a butterfly lands on you, just stay calm and observe it. Don't touch it, or you could damage its fragile wings. If you or your child is uncomfortable or becomes frightened, just ask one of the workers at the exhibit for help. You'll get the chance to see the insects feed from the sweet-smelling flowers that fill the exhibits or watch them nibble on the chunks of fruit left out for them. If you're there at just the right time, you might even get to see a butterfly emerge from their chrysalis, dry off in the sunshine and take its first flight.
Enclosed butterfly exhibits are not open year round. They reappear in the spring like the butterflies they house. So when the days get warmer and flowers start blooming, keep your eyes open for butterflies in your backyard. And remember to plan to visit one of South Carolina's amazing butterfly exhibits for a closer look at these amazing creatures.