Butterflies Alive!


Baylie Bingham

Butterflies at the Natural History Museum exhibit.

As the season of spring comes to a close, the feeling of summer begins to sink in. With many things to look forward to at this time of year, one thing to add to the list would be the return of the exhibit known as “Butterflies Alive!” at the Natural History Museum. The extremely popular exhibit displaying a dazzling variety of butterflies returns to the Sprague Butterfly Pavilion every summer. From local favorites to exotics, the exhibit provides visitors with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to take a walk through a beautiful garden with nearly 1,000 butterflies fluttering freely around them. Alongside this, guests get to view a beautiful flowering garden of plantlife from local nurseries created to provide the butterflies with a lush oasis for them to roam. 

Each year the museum makes an effort to feature both local and more international, exotic butterfly species. According to their research, six families and over one hundred species of butterflies have been recorded locally throughout Santa Barbara county. Most notably would be the presence of the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is an iconic and possibly most famous species of butterfly that is widely recognized from their orange, black, and white, patterned wings. Long tied with regions along the coast of California, these butterflies attract tourists to not just the Museum but preserves all along the coast. As they typically inhabit tall trees in large conspicuous groups, you may have observed wild Monarch butterflies along the tops of Eucalyptus trees somewhere in Santa Barbara. 

While the number of butterflies within the pavilion at a time will remain the same, new and different species of butterflies are added every year to maintain an active and entrancing garden. Each year the environment of the pavilion is built to best accommodate the year’s butterflies. Last year, with the addition of multiple varieties of tropical butterfly species, the environment was kept warm and moist. 

Open every Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., entry to “Butterflies Alive!” is included in museum admission which can either be reserved online or purchased upon arrival. 

“I love seeing the butterflies every year. The pavilion felt rich with life and stood as a perfect way to observe the butterflies safely,” said Colette Keller, a sophomore and visitor of the pavilion last year. Something that everybody can be interested in, the pavilion welcomes everybody, local or visitor, to come and experience the exhibit this summer anytime from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

So, if you are  looking for something to do this summer, visit the Natural History Museum for the one-of-a-kind butterfly experience alongside everything else the museum has to offer!