March Morpho Mania in St. Louis

*Blue Morpho Butterfly at Butterfly House in St. Louis
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Flashes of spectacular blue light flutter, then disappear.  Some creatures fly alone, many in small groups.  Suddenly blue wings seem to turn brown as they land atop a leaf.  Visitors can witness as many as 3,000 in one enclosed space.  No wonder they call it March Morpho Mania!

The Costa Rican native looks quite ordinary when perched with its wings together, camouflaged against predators.  But when it flies, scales atop its wings allow only blue light to escape, creating an almost iridescent display.  It's the star of the seasonal show at the Butterfly House in Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis.
Closed Wings on Blue Morpho
Open Wings on Blue Morpho
Collections Manager Laura Chisholm
Butterfly House
"We are averaging about 750 butterflies a week coming in," said Collections Manager Laura Chisholm.  All of the butterflies arrive in the chrysalis stage from a sustainable butterfly farm in Costa Rica.  "Every time you come through the door you're helping support El Bosque Nuevo and their conservation that they're doing down there."

I'm not sure which of us was more patient:  me trying to snap the perfect photo or my preschooler trying to invite a Blue Morpho to perch atop her fingers.  Neither one of us left with what we wanted.  Unfortunately, the butterflies with the most outspread wings seemed to be at the end of their lifespans.  Most were too busy darting around or feeding, camouflaged, on bananas to pose for the perfect blue portrait.

The Blue Morpho has become a popular darling that draws in the crowds, while several other butterflies live in the Butterfly House year around.  All of them share a conservation message.

Education Coordinator Chris Hartley said he wants all visitors to take away more than a pretty picture.  "I want them to realize that butterflies are an important part of everyone's lives even though we don't think about them probably in our day to day lives and also to realize that far away places like the rainforest are also very important to our lives."

Education Coordinator Chris Hartley
Butterfly House

Even if we don't have Costan Rican Blue Morphos, we all have the chance to host spectacular butterflies. I asked Hartley how to make our yards more inviting.  He answered, "The butterflies need certain plants. They need food from the flowers in the form of nectar and they need leaves to lay their eggs on.  So look up some host plants for butterflies.  Those are the plants that butterflies need to lay their eggs on.  And plant those in your yard because they'll invite the butterflies to come visit."
The Paper Kite

Small Postman
The Butterfly House, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden, is open seven days a week through the end of March. Thanks to the garden for courtesy admission, and thanks to Stonyfield Organic for keeping my kids well-fed on the long road-trip to St. Louis.  We stayed nourished even on the Moo-ve with Stonyfield's new YoKids Smoothies in Strawbana and Very Berry.  The author was financially compensated by Stonyfield for this series of sponsored posts.

Be sure to enter for your chance to win coupons for free 6-packs of new Stonyfield YoKids Smoothies plus your own pack of "52 Fun Things to do in the Car!"

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Orchids on Display

Dodging Raindrops at the Botanical Garden