Text & photos by Garrett McLees Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, PR & Marketing Intern
Butterflies LIVE! doesn’t open until May 25th, but today I had a unique opportunity to see behind-the-scenes and get a first look at the arrival of the butterflies. None of the butterflies have emerged from their chrysalis yet, that made their transport much easier. They were shipped by FedEx and arrived in two small boxes, organized and grouped by species. Jay Forehand and Grant Howell then worked on sorting out the pupae by species and hanging them in boxes so that they can continue the hatching process. It was amazing to see the variations of color, shape, and texture in each chrysalis between the species.
Each pupae is glued to a piece of paper which is then glued to the box tops using a glue gun. (The process does not damage them, so no butterflies were harmed in the process.) This method is necessary because when the tops are placed on the boxes the pupae are able to hang down as they would naturally. It is difficult to predict when the butterflies will emerge, each will take as much time as it needs.