Into the Glass House

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is proud to welcome the 26th year of the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming. This year, over 60 species of butterflies from Asia, Africa, and Central & South America, will take flight in the warm, lush environment of the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. 

The 19th century was an era of discovery. This year’s theme will highlight horticulture displays, butterflies, moths and caterpillars in and under glass. Offering a look into the history of how Dr. Nathaniel Ward pursued a discovery of keeping plants in miniature green houses, which he named fern houses, and which are now known as Wardian cases or terrariums. Learn more about the Wardian case and terrariums from miniature to five stories tall.

Observation Station

The butterflies emerge from chrysalides, or cocoons, daily at the new and improved Observation Station. To help ease their transition to the open conservatory, staff will collect and release adult butterflies throughout the day.

Hot Spots

The conservatory provides the perfect “home away from home” for the butterflies. Look around carefully, under leafy cover or high up in the canopy—they may be difficult to spot when they are resting. Butterflies are more active than usual on sunny days.

Feeding Stations

Feeding Stations

Feeding stations provide a great spot to closely watch and identify butterflies as they feast on a honey-water solution. Also look for trays of juicy, overripe fruit.

Orchid Wall

Orchid Wall

Watch the butterflies as they land on the Orchid Wall searching for nectar.

Stream Bed & Waterfall

Stream Bed & Waterfall

Common Morpho butterflies can often be seen chasing each other along the streambed and past the waterfall. Many butterflies flock to the plants along the streambed. The damp soil is a hot spot for watching butterflies probe for minerals.

Double Coconut Island

Double Coconut Island

This sunny spot is a magnet for butterflies. Watch them basking in the sun, visiting nectar-rich flowers.

The Caterpillar Room

The Caterpillar Room

Look for Monarch caterpillars as they roam freely through the greenhouse.

Release Pedestal

Release Pedestal

Stop by the butterfly release pedestal to watch butterflies take their first flight.

Sometimes butterflies may even land on you! Let them be and enjoy the rare close encounter. But be careful they don’t hitch a ride with you as you exit the conservatory!

Exhibition Rules

During the butterfly exhibition, tripods are not allowed in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. Monopods may be used, but please be courteous to other guests.

Due to governmental regulations, no butterfly or plant materials may leave the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.

Please don’t touch the butterflies.

The Butterflies


The front legs of brush-footed butterflies are reduced to small “brushes.” They include some of the most brilliantly colored and patterned butterflies. Some have iridescent colors—watch how the color seems to change when they fly.


These butterflies are named for the long, narrow shape of their wings. They taste terrible to predators and warn them with bright colors and distinctive patterns. Colors and patterns vary greatly, depending on their region of origin.


These butterflies are named for the “tails” on many (but not all) species. Swallowtails are powerful fliers and in flight, the tails are used for gliding. When at rest, birds may mistake the tails as the butterfly's head and antennae, providing protection from predators.


Exhibition Sponsors

Howard Miller Company
Foremost Graphics Group
The Meijer Foundation
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Foundation
Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts

Media Sponsors