Personal Post: Visit the Butterflies and Save the Monarchs

I love butterflies. They are such beautiful, delicate creatures and so fun to photograph!

I mostly feature wedding and engagement photos, but every now and then I like to include a personal post. I’ve blogged about a trip to the Bahamas and the Pittsburgh Zoo, and now I’m excited to share some images from a trip to a butterfly exhibit.

Paperwhite butterfly exhibit art black and white

My mom and I went to the Brookside Gardens’ special exhibit called Wings of Fancy in Wheaton, Maryland. Many natural history museums have large exhibits where you walk through a space filled with flowers and greenery and hundreds of butterflies fly freely all around you. I particularly like the Brookside Gardens’ space because it does the same thing, but it is in a small greenhouse that uses only natural sunlight. I highly recommend a visit–the best $6 you could ever spend! It is almost a spiritual experience to walk into such a gorgeous space with all the brightly colored wings flying around you–some even landing on you!

A volunteer told us this French Lebeau Moth had just emerged from a cocoon the morning we arrived! It was stunning!

Wings of Fancy, Wheaton Maryland

Wings of Fancy, Brookside Gardens butterfly

My mom, Judi, is a lepidopterist (a person interested in butterflies and moths) who has her very own butterfly garden in her backyard in Maryland.

The Monarch population has been drastically diminishing. Judi has a simple solution everyone can use to help the Monarchs: “The Monarch butterfly’s 2013 migration from Mexico to Canada and back is almost complete. Over several generations each year, the Monarchs travel thousands of miles north to Canada, through the Eastern United States, sometimes going as far as 265 miles in one day! Unfortunately, the numbers of Monarchs migrating are way down because there is not enough milkweed to sustain these beautiful orange and black-winged wonders. The female Monarch will only lay her eggs on milkweed plants, and the Monarchs will only eat milkweed plants. The solution is simple: Plant milkweed. You can create a Monarch Waystation with many plants (http://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/), but even planting milkweed in a single pot helps. If you plant it, they will come! Monarchs mostly travel through the Washington, D.C., and New York City areas July through September.”

I also highly recommend the film, Flight of the Butterflies 3D, playing at the Smithsonian and museums throughout the country. It is an amazing look at the Monarch migration!

Going to a greenhouse like Wings of Fancy is especially interesting because you get to see and interact with butterflies from all over the world. One of my favorites at the exhibit, found from Mexico to Panama, is the Glasswing. It is very unusual because the wings are translucent and the tissue between the veins of its wings looks like glass. 

This is just one section of the enclosed garden in full bloom. You can’t tell from the photo, but there are butterflies flying all around me. Special thanks to my mom for trying to figure out how to use my camera and taking this great shot!

Maryland Butterfly Exhibit Wings Fancy

Here my mom is taking a photo of a butterfly sitting on some purple aster. It is such a fun place to bring your family, friends or even go on a date!

Blur Clipper Butterfly

Malachite butterfly Wings of Fancy MD

Most of the butterflies are flown in express delivery envelopes to the exhibit from all over the world.

Butterfly exhibit east coast

Brown Clipper Butterfly at Brookside Gardens, Maryland

I hope you are able to plant some milkweed for the Monarchs, and think about adding some butterfly bushes to your garden as well! It comes in many colors, it’s easy to grow, and will bring butterflies to your yard!

Identification for the Butterflies pictured in the order they are shown: Banded Orange, Paperwhite, Orange Gulf Fritillary, Blue Sara Longwing, Lebeau Moth, Green Malachite, Monarch, Glasswing, Variegated Fritillary, Blue Clipper, Malachite, Blue Morpho in profile, Red Rim, and the Brown Clipper Butterfly.

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  1. Denise Chastain

    September 25th, 2013 at 7:12 am

    I love your butterfly photos. Thank you for sharing. I must plant some milkweed now!

  2. Personal Post: Niagara Falls Trip - - Jessica Schmitt Photography Blog

    October 2nd, 2014 at 12:14 am

    […] I love going to butterfly conservatories and have visited some all over the country including Maryland, Washington D.C., Boca Raton and North Carolina. This one is my favorite! It is enormous–home […]

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