Monarch Mania

The Krohn Conservatory’s annual butterfly show returns with a new theme. 

By Belinda Cai

The Krohn Conservatory’s annual butterfly show has delighted guests of all ages for 21 years. Running March 25 through June 18 this year, it will continue to provide educational entertainment but takes a new turn in its 22nd year. Since 2004, the exhibit has featured butterflies from different countries around the world like India, China and Japan. This year, rather than focus on butterflies from other countries, the exhibit will examine monarch butterflies in great depth.

“This year’s title is ‘The Majestic Monarch!’” says Manager of Krohn Conservatory Andrea Schepmann. “We will have lots of other butterflies in the display; the elements that are typically more cultural are replaced with a more scientific approach to explain to people how to conserve and preserve the monarchs in their habitats and what they can do in their own lives to help encourage the monarchs in their journey as they travel through all of our areas.”

The monarch butterfly has the most evolved migration pattern of any known species of butterfly, moth or even insect, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. They travel between 1,200 and 2,800 miles or further from the United States and Canada to central Mexican forests, where they hibernate in the mountains. They are an endangered species due to the loss of milkweed in the Midwest, which the eggs and caterpillars need to survive. This information and much more will be presented at the exhibit.

Schepmann says that as visitors approach the building, they’ll see the giant butterfly sculpture in the front façade that stands out every year around the time of the show. This and various other parts of the exhibit are great photo ops for families. You don’t enter at the front door because of the one-way flow; visitors are directed to the right and around the building to the Desert house. All along the way, there are signs, bits of information and opportunities for visitors to get into the spirit of the show before it even begins.

Once in the Desert house where guests pay for admission (you can also get tickets ahead of time), there are decorations, sculptural pieces and something that looks like a fur forest the monarchs visit when they go to Mexico. You go through the orchid area and see the chrysalis room where

 all of the butterflies from around the world come to.

“It’s required to be this very isolated room where we open the boxes and make sure everything is completely sanitary. It’s the nursery space. You can look in the window and see the baby chrysalis,” says Schepmann. “Then you come through our education space. In that room, there are crafts, various activities and information about the great migration: when monarchs go and about when they’re there. There’s another wall about how to get involved.”

Then there’s a family favorite—the flight room where hundreds upon hundreds of butterflies are in free flight. Visitors get up close and personal

 with the insects as they flutter around them, land on flowers and plants, and land on the people observing.

On the other side, there’s an activity where the conservatory is asking visitors to tell them where they’re seeing the butterflies feeding. There are a few different colored feeders with a sugar-water material and the staff wants to see if there is a preference for which color or material.

“There are lots of other events that will happen throughout this. After that, there is the collection area that’s more educational with signage,” Schepmann explains. “I’ve known people to be here a couple ofhours depending on what they’re doing and what the temperature is; they can go outside and bring a picnic in the tent and park area. Some people make a whole day of it. Inside the conservatory, the whole exhibit takes about an hour.”

Schepmann says upon the opening of the show, there will be special events right away. On April 2, The Land of Nod Tour Bus, with Charlie Harper-themed activities, is making a stop at Krohn. April 8-9, there will be a daffodil show featuring hundreds of the flowers. On April 16, there is an Easter Sunday event.

There are photographer nights on several days of April and May that allow photographers with tripods into the conservatory so they can shoot photos of the butterflies after hours. There is an Earth Day Celebration April 21, a photo contest June 1, and a Hosta, Daylily and Perennial Plant Sale May 6.

A craft beer event for adults is May 12, the Krohn Marketplace Weekend featuring local vendors is May 13-14, The Cincinnati Children’s Theatre Character Day is May 30, Watercolors Wednesday is May 24, a Memorial Day event is May 29, and a family night butterfly pajama party event takes place May 17, 31 and June 14. Beyond that, there are many other special events that take place alongside the show.

The butterfly is a great insect for children to be interested in, according to Schepmann. A lot of other insects can be frightening to children, but butterflies usually are not. Kids are fascinated by their gentle nature, bright colors and fluttery wings. Plus, the exhibit will demonstrate to children and adults alike how to help protect the monarch butterflies in their everyday lives.

People can create habitats for monarchs by planting milkweed. This should be in a large, open area outside that is free of pesticides and mowing. A combination of flowers in different stages of bloom will assist with butterfly breeding and migration.

“This is one of those rare opportunities to get up close to butterflies to our own backyards,” says Schepmann. “This is good for families to bring their children into the world of nature.”

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