On March 4, the new 3,200 square foot Butterfly Pavilion located near the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail opens! The new Spring Butterfly Exhibit will feature hundreds of live fluttering butterflies, a caterpillar nursery and emergence chamber. In addition to being a delightful and magical experience for children and adults alike, the space also doubles as a research facility. Dr. Kim Pegram, insect ecologist and exhibits specialist, has researched butterfly behavior and how butterflies interact with their environment at the Garden for nearly three years. The new Pavilion will allow for further research. 

“The Butterfly Pavilion and the Diana E. and Paul B. Smith Butterfly Nursery can be used for research about butterfly behavior and their interaction with plants. In the climate-controlled space of the Nursery, we will raise monarch caterpillars on different species of native milkweed, and study how they survive on each of the species. This will help guide our conservation efforts because we can choose the best species for the monarch’s health,” says Pegram.

The Garden has taken part in monarch conservation since 2004 by partnering with monarch conservation organizations, providing educational opportunities, starting a research program and registering as a Monarch Waystation. Guests will observe this research in action in the caterpillar nursery as the caterpillars will be on display munching on different species of milkweed. 

The educational experience will continue as visitors will have the opportunity for up-close interaction with butterflies while learning about their role as pollinators, characteristics of their lifecycles and our conservation efforts to protect them. 

The Butterfly Pavilion will continue to be used as a research facility even after closing to the public on May 14.

“When the Exhibit is closed to visitors, the shaded portion (where the butterflies fly) can be used to study interactions between adult butterflies. In the former Marshall Butterfly Pavilion, Dr. Ron Rutowski from Arizona State University used the space to study how Pipevine Swallowtail males display colors to females. We hope similar collaborations will continue in the new exhibit,” says Pegram.  

Be the first to visit the Butterfly Pavilion and research facility on opening weekend – March 4 & 5, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Join Desert Botanical Garden on this very special weekend packed with butterfly and plant fun as we celebrate the grand opening of the Butterfly Exhibit and the horticulture campus – the Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science. 

Construction of the new Exhibit is made possible by generous donors who have made gifts to The Saguaro Initiative campaign. Leading the way in support of the Butterfly Exhibit is the APS Foundation whose financial donation allows for the construction of the APS Foundation Butterfly Landing. Located just outside the Butterfly Pavilion adjacent to the Monarch butterfly garden display, the APS Foundation Butterfly Landing will provide a dedicated space for school groups, children and families to gather and participate in education programs. The seasonal Spring Butterfly Exhibit is sponsored by APS and supported by The Fred Maytag Family Foundation.