For the first time since 2013, the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit returns to Golden Gate Park’s Conservatory of Flowers beginning November 17 and runs through June 30, 2017.
Offering a delightful break from the winter rain and cold, the Conservatory transforms one of the galleries in the Victorian era greenhouse into a colorful cottage garden. Visitors can have a very up close experience with these winged beauties. The Butterflies and Blooms exhibit will be open every Tuesday through Sunday starting at 10am. Last entry changes with the season: 4pm November 1 through March 15; and 6 pm March 16-October 31. Exhibit entry is included with admission to the Conservatory.
Within the exhibit, a Butterfly Bungalow showcases butterflies emerging from their chrysalis stage. These intriguing structures are hardened exoskeletons formed by the caterpillars and vary by creature. Some are jade colored with gold spots while others sport prominent and unusual horns. Inside, a total metamorphosis takes place, which is one one of the great mysteries of nature. The caterpillar liquefies completely and its cells reorganize into a butterfly. Many visitors will be lucky enough to catch the amazing event in action when a transformed butterfly emerges.
For the first time this year, visitors can become a member of the Butterfly Patrol for a $20 donation, which gives them access to learn how to release a newly emerged butterfly into the exhibit. Patrol members also receive complimentary people-sized antennae and a special badge to take home. Funds raised from the Butterfly Patrol will support school programs at the Conservatory.
The process of metamorphosis is just one of many fascinating topics visitors can learn from the exhibit. For example, butterflies taste with their feet using special receptors to determine whether a particular flower is a good stop for a drink of nectar or a good place to lay their eggs.
Another fun fact is the monarch has the longest migration of any insect, traveling as far as 3,000 miles). This migration is also an enduring mystery because no single butterfly makes the round trip. Scientists have doubts about how exactly the last of the many monarch generations return on their own to the same exact overwintering spots each year, despite the fact that many live and die as they travel to their northernmost habitat.
Admission the Conservatory of Flowers differs for SF residents and non-residents. San Francisco residents (with proof of residency) can enter for $6 general admission; $3 for youth 12-17, seniors and students with ID; $2 for children 5-11; children 4 and under are free. Admission for non-residents is $8 for general, $6 for youth 12-17, seniors and students with ID; $2 for children 5-11; children 4 and under are free.
Conservatory of Flowers has a total of 1,750 plant species representing unusual flora from over 50 countries worldwide. Visit the Conservatory’s website for more information.