City Quotient: Where Do All The Franklin Park Conservatory Butterflies Go?

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

What happens to all the butterflies that are released inside the Franklin Park Conservatory each summer for the Blooms and Butterflies show?

Did you know that when you go to see the butterflies at the Franklin Park Conservatory, you're helping preserve the world's rainforests? Blooms and Butterflies, open through Sept. 27, is quite a production. The stars of the show arrive as chrysalises, which the conservatory nurtures in an "emergence center" until the butterflies finish their metamorphosis from caterpillars. Around 800 a week emerge and are kept in the Pacific Island Water Garden area, where they feed on nectar-producing plants and various supplements. Thirty varieties of butterflies will flutter around during the show's 6-month run, with a dozen or so active at any one time. They have naturally short life spans-about 10 days to three weeks-and they are allowed to live out their normal lives in the biome. Butterfly emergence is timed so the last ones come out near the end of the show, but even after the exhibition closes, they flutter around until they go to butterfly heaven. And how does this save the rainforest? Turns out butterfly shows have become so popular that a chrysalis industry has developed in Central and South America; butterfly farmers nurture the caterpillars and then ship chrysalises to show sponsors. The rainforest is the farmers' farm, so they protect their businesses by protecting the forest.

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to cityquotient@columbusmonthly.com, and the answer might appear in a future column.