The original name for butterfly was flutterby



The North Carolina Museum of Life & Science unveiled the new "Magic Wings" Butterfly House, with more than 1000 exotic butterflies from all over the world, in its grand opening on the weekend of April 17 & 18th, 1999.



This is part of the BioQuest Exhibit, a hands-on outdoor adventure, which eventually will comprise 40 acres. The exhibit is being built in stages, and is scheduled to be completed in 2004-05.



I've always had a fascination with butterflies. I collected butterflies as a child. I have very early memories of my older brother and sister taking me around the corner and up the block from where we lived. Nets in hand, we trudged forth to the end of the block, which seemed unending.



There was a field at the end of the street, where we captured our prey with wispy butterfly nets that allowed us to closely examine the catch before deciding if it should go into the jar. My big brother Ron, who had been inflicted with polio the year I was born, examined the specimen from his wheelchair throne. We both adore our big brother. He grew a butterfly in a shoebox in his room!


The slow, delicate lilting, or frantic, death defying flapping made little difference to us in the choosing of our specimens, unless they tore up their wings while beating to escape. My older sister Barb would open the jar which contained a cotton ball soaked in who knows what; rubbing alcohol probably, that caused the butterflies' ultimate demise.




If it looked good, it would eventually end up mounted on our display board. It wasn't because we wanted to hurt them, it was because they were so beautiful we wanted to preserve them. Boy, that really sounds morbid now.



Magic Wings also has a wonderful display of the butterfly's life stages, importing regular shipments of chrysalises from far reaching locations in Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and many other locations around the world. You can actually watch the bursting of the pods as the caterpillars emerge into butterflies.




Part of the secret of keeping the butterfly house perfect for the wide array of occupants, is the intermittant misting that goes on all over, in and around a spectacular sampling of rare and exotic tropical plants.




The butterlies are extremely adept at blending in to their surroundings. As you can see, it takes a good eye to spot some of these masqueraders as they rest on the leaves. Butterflies' lifespan is surprisingly short, about 2 weeks. I guess it's all about quality of life.



A trip to the Museum of Life and Science always holds new discoveries and lots of fun things to do. The new butterfly house is truly outstanding, from the exhibits to the knowledgeable staff, who warns you to check yourself for hitchhiking butterflies before you leave!



This taste of the tropics is well received here in the Triangle. Dress lightly! With a temperature holding steady near 80° and 80% humidity, it gets pretty sticky real quick. It sure will be nice to visit during the winter months too!




The Magic Wings Butterfly House has been made possible by The Glaxo Wellcome Foundation, as well as many, many other corporate and private donors.
The Museum of Life & Science is located at 433 Murray Avenue (one mile north of I-85), in Durham, NC. It's open every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day, from 10 - 5 Monday - Saturday, and 12 - 5 on Sunday. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) extend to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Call 919-220-5429 for more info.


Click here for the Museum of Life and Sciences Website.


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