by TRAVELPRO guide
July 5, 2001
The grandchildren also love the insects about as much as the butterflies. In summer, hundreds of bees go in/out of glass tubes as they build their honeycombs behind glass.
I'm captivated by the many beautiful butterflies flitting from flower to flower in the lush tropical atmosphere. My grandson respectfully held very still when a large black/white butterfly landed on his head. Later he was even more awed when a volunteer encouraged him to hold a tarantula spider.
Since the center opened six years ago,over 450,000 people have come to enjoy the butterflies, lush green plants and blooming flowers on a five-acre plot. More than 1,200 butterflies representing 50 different species fly, feed, and bask in the pavilion’s tropical atmosphere. Blossoming exotic flowers flourish in the 70 percent humidity and 75-85 degree temperature.
Friendly volunteers walk around the tropical gardens and answer questions about arthrpoids and butterflies. They also interact with children and adults, plus mount the chrysalides in a glass-encased wood display.
Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, which was created by the non profit Rocky Mountain Butterfly Consortium, is one of only about a dozen butterfly houses in the United States. Most are typically associated with zoos and museums.
Butterflies only live for about 14 days in captivity. They have already lived for several weeks as a caterpillar and a couple of weeks as a chrysalis before emerging as beautiful butterflies. The Westminster pavilion is not a breeding ground for butterflies. Butterflies are shipped by overnight express in the chrysalis (cocoon stage) from butterfly farms in Malaysia, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Kenya, and other South American countries at a cost of about $80,000 a year. Purchasing from the tropical regions of the world helps promote local economies.
A gift shop features unusual novelty items with a butterfly motif. This summer I bought a card of little capsules which turn into sponge-like "creatures" when emerged in water. My grandchildren love them. Proceeds from the gift shop and a snack bar, as well as grants, sponsorships and admission fees, help fund the center.
Volunteers answer questions about arthropods and butterflies. They also interact with children and adults, plus mount the chrysalides in a glass-encased wood display.
The center is north of Denver, just east of the 104th Avenue exit off U.S. 36.
For more information, call 303 4699 5441.
From journal A MILE HIGH AND RISING