Article and images by Anne Belmont
The Butterflies and Blooms exhibit is up and running for the summer at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This is the third year for the exhibit at CBG and it continues to be very popular and a summer favorite at the Garden. If you enjoy photographing butterflies in a garden setting this is the place to visit during the summer months. The exhibit is housed in a 2,800-square-foot white mesh enclosure located on the lawn of the Learning Campus. The Learning Campus is located at the north end of the Garden, opposite the far parking lots. As you proceed past the gatehouse at the entrance, look straight ahead and you can’t miss the large white enclosure. The exhibit is open daily, weather permitting, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and will remain open through September 1st. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children 3-12 and children under 3 are free. Members receive a $1 discount to above prices and on Wednesdays Garden Plus members are admitted free. Tripods are not allowed in the exhibit during normal hours but the exhibit is available for private photography rental prior to opening to the public for groups of up to 20 people for a fee of $300, and tripods are allowed during that time.
The habitat houses hundreds of butterflies at any given time, with species native to South America, Asia, North America and Africa, as well as species native to Illinois. There are also a number of moths in the exhibit, including the spectacular Atlas moth. The Garden receives new shipments every week so the varieties are constantly changing, making it fun to visit the exhibit multiple times during the summer months. It is also fun to watch the beautiful garden within the enclosure mature through the summer. By the end of the summer the flowers and plants are lush and equally beautiful to photograph as the butterflies. You can observe butterflies emerging from their chrysalides through a window to the pupa emergence room. Volunteers are on hand to answer questions and help you identify species. Interpretive cards are also available to help with identification, and there are many signs throughout the exhibit that explain the life cycle of the butterfly and provide interesting facts. If you happen to meet Patrick, the new butterfly expert, he is full of knowledge and enthusiasm about the butterflies, a great new addition to the Garden’s staff.
For tips on photographing butterflies, please read my previous article on Out of Chicago on photographing the butterflies at The Garden.
Visit the Garden’s website for more information on the exhibit.
Finally, if you need help in identification of butterflies, please visit the butterfly gallery on my website with over 200 images of butterflies and their names.