Native California Butterflies Taking Flight in NHM’s ‘Butterfly Pavilion’

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Outdoor Exhibit Features 53 Butterfly Species and More California Plants — A Preview of the Nature Gardens Opening in June 2013


Pavilion Open Sunday, April 14 – Monday, September 2, 2013


Los Angeles—The Butterfly Pavilionthe living habitat where hundreds of butterflies flutter among nectaring plants, returns for its 15th year at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) on April 14, 2013.

This year, in addition to hosting its usual far-flung travelers from across North America, the Pavilion will also have a distinctive California feel. Of the 53 species of butterflies, 20 will be native to the Golden State. The Museum’s gardeners have also made a shift toward incorporating native plants — a natural source of food for the California flutterers—in order to tell the story of how butterflies survive in the wild.

Visitors to the Pavilion may see the state butterfly, the California dogface, munching on the foliage of the desert false indigo. Other native Southern California butterflies and plants include the painted lady, which eats the leaves of the bush mallow. The buckeye butterfly will have the nectar of the lilac verbena flowers to drink and the native black-and-cream colored mourning cloak may be seen snacking on arroyo willow leaves.




Telling Butterfly Stories

Once inside, visitors can learn about the migration, defense mechanisms, and plant interactions of the Pavilion’s winged inhabitants. The Museum’s staff is interested in showing not just the butterfly — but the creature’s whole life cycle. With more nectar plants and more host plants for caterpillars, careful observers can see the eggs, caterpillars, and some of the pupae of the butterflies. NHM’s Gallery Interpreters, schooled in butterfly facts and carrying iPads loaded with images of each transformational stage, will be in the Pavilion daily to answer visitors’ questions about metamorphosis, butterfly anatomy, and breeding habits.


Come in for a Landing

Some lucky visitors to the Pavilion may find that curious butterflies alight delicately on their arms, or shoulders. There are many theories about why some people make more attractive perches than others, including clothing colors, and smells. While there’s no sure-fire way to get a butterfly to land on you, it seems that standing still, being tall, and wearing a hat seems to help. Additionally, the best flight time in the   Pavilion is after it opens every day — between 10 and 11 a.m. Butterflies like sun, but by afternoon, many of them are looking for shade.




In the New Nature Gardens

There’s also plenty of butterfly activity outside the Pavilion this year. The new Nature Gardens, a 3½-acre outdoor exhibit opening June 9, 2013, has been industriously planted with butterfly-friendly greenery on a grand scale. A giant living laboratory on the Museum’s north and east sides, the space will offer a range of activities for visitors to help them discover and engage in the natural world of Los Angeles, a biodiversity hotspot. The butterfly species that can only be seen in the Nature Gardens (because they breed well in open outdoor spaces) include the fiery skipper, Hylephila phyleus, which lays its eggs on some of the new grasses, and the gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, which lays its eggs on the newly planted buckwheat.


At the Nature Gardens’ hands-on gardening workshops, homeowners and school children can learn how to create a butterfly garden in their own backyard or schoolyard as well as pick up tips on edible gardening and water conservation. In addition, the new Erika J. Glazer Family Home Garden will be a showplace of fruit trees, seasonal plantings of vegetables in raised beds, and plants that attract beneficial garden bugs


The Nature Gardens and NHM’s new indoor science hub, the Nature Lab, also opening June 9, will be home to the Museum’s citizen science initiatives. One, the Los Angeles Butterfly Survey, is a project in partnership with Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) that aims to extend the Museum’s butterfly experience beyond the outdoor exhibits and into the community.  For more information on NHM’s roster of citizen science projects, visit


Gardening Classes:

Learn How to Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden at Home

In the Home Garden, NHM’s Master Gardener Florence Nishida will offer a series of gardening classes that focus

on different techniques: creating good soil, knowing how much and how often to feed and water, starting your

vegetables from seed, and transplanting.


Sundays, April 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2013; 1-4:30 pm



Please call (213) 763-ED4U or e-mail for more information.


Members: $25 per class, $80 for all 4 classes in the series

Non-members: $30 per class, $100 for all 4 classes in the series

Discounted to $15 per class, and $50 for all 4 classes in the series for residents of zip codes 90006, 90007, 90008, 90011, 90015, 90016, 90018, 90037, 90062, 90089


NHM Butterfly Pavilion Ticketing Information

Special ticketed admission applies to the Butterfly Pavilion. Prices for general admission plus the Pavilion are as

follows: Adults, $15; College students and seniors, $11; Children ages (3-12), $6; Museum members and children

under 2 are free. Regular Museum admission is: Adults, $12; Students and Seniors, $9; Children (3-12), $5.

Museum Members and children age 2 and under are admitted for free.


Save the Date: 27th Annual Bug Fair

In further celebration of the winged and creepy-crawly, the Museum hosts the 27th annual Bug Fair on Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19 this year. The biggest bug festival in North America, the Bug Fair offers visitors an opportunity to buy bugs and bug merchandise from more than 70 vendors, see outstanding collections, and learn about the world of arthropods and arachnids with help from the Entomology Curator Dr. Brian Brown and many of the Museum’s other scientists. Fun activities include live animal presentations, citizen science projects, crafts, live music, and some of the greatest bug chefs in the world. For more information, visit


About the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County serves nearly one million families and visitors annually, and is a national leader in research, exhibitions, and education. The Museum was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. It has amassed one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history — with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years. The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM (Exposition Park), the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Park and Museum (Newhall, California).  NHM is at 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007 and is open seven days a week 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit the Museum’s website at or call (213) 763-DINO.


NHM 100

The Museum turns 100 this year. In June 2013, we will see the debut of the Nature Gardens, 3½ acres of nature and urban wildlife experiences, the Nature Lab, their indoor component, and the glass-enclosed Otis Booth Pavilion.Becoming Los Angeles, the Museum’s landmark exhibition on the cultural and environmental history of Los Angeles, opens July 14, 2013. These new exhibits follow the milestone re-opening of the Beaux Arts 1913 Building in Summer 2010, the debut of the Age of Mammals, as well as the Museum’s new Dinosaur Hall, which opened in 2011.


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