The Miracle of Metamorphosis

An exciting transformation is coming to the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House Entomology Lab

If you’ve visited the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in its first two decades of operation, you’ve likely marveled at the beautiful butterfly diversity on display, but have you ever wondered how these colorful creatures come to fill the Butterfly House’s tropical conservatory?

Promoting entomology—the branch of zoology that focuses on the study of insects—has been part of the Butterfly House’s mission since its inception, but much of the work that goes into this discipline has been largely unseen by the visiting public. That will soon change with an extensive transformation of the Butterfly House’s entomology lab facilities scheduled to begin in 2020.

The new Butterfly House Entomology Lab will double the space staff use to receive and process arriving butterflies, house hundreds of other invertebrates, and provide visitors an interactive learning experience.

With initial funding by generous donor contributions, the redevelopment project will expand what is currently a 180-square-foot lab—off limits to visitors due to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulations—into a fully interactive learning space highlighting the butterfly life cycle, invertebrate animal conservation, and career exploration in the field of entomology. Guests will get an up-close and awe-inspiring experience as they uncover the miracle of metamorphosis and explore the four stages of the butterfly and moth lifecycles, the differences between a chrysalis and a cocoon, and the international journey butterflies take to arrive at the Butterfly House.

“Our hope is that guests of all ages will have the opportunity to always walk away with new knowledge, whether it’s their first visit or their fiftieth,” explains Butterfly House Director Jennifer Mullix.

“The overall goal of the new space is to break down the barrier between what’s on display and what’s behind the scenes, increasing every visitor’s understanding of and appreciation for butterflies and other invertebrates.”

Jennifer Mullix, Director of the Butterfly House

Technology will play an important role in the new Entomology Lab, including new digital interpretation tools highlighting the distinct characteristics of each species on display and new communication hardware that will enable the Butterfly House’s team of experts to conduct virtual “keeper chats” on social media and to host local school and community groups as well as guests from all over the country for virtual field trips in the lab.

“Whether they’re here at the Butterfly House or joining us remotely, guests will get a front-row seat to learn about the important work our entomologists do each day,” Mullix says. “It’s our hope that we will create a foundation that supports change in the negative perception of insects and other invertebrates. Our goal is to help people make the connection that butterflies are insects and insects are animals, which are both fascinating and critical to life as we know it.”

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John Dedeke
Content Managing Editor

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