Ready to Bug Out? Bug Fair is May 18 and 19 this year!
More than 53 different butterfly and moth species and an array of plants take up residence every summer for our much-anticipated seasonal exhibit, the Butterfly Pavilion. Wander through a unique changing ecosystem, witness free-flying creatures interacting with plant life, and emerge with a better understanding of the environment needed for the survival of these spectacular animals.
The butterflies are very popular! To ensure the best guest experience for all, every visit to the Butterfly Pavilion requires a timed ticket for an additional fee, which is available only when purchased with a general admission museum ticket or membership. To guarantee your spot, we highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance here. Members are admitted for free and can reserve tickets online here. Patron Family level members and higher can pick up a free Monarch Pass when they arrive, which allows anytime access to the Pavilion. Timed-tickets will also be available to all at any ticketing desk at the Museum on a first-come, first-served basis.
Butterfly Pavilion 2013 is an outdoor special exhibit at NHM. As such, it is subject to closure at any time due to inclement weather. Weather permitting; the Butterfly Pavilion is open daily from 10 am-5 pm.
The Butterfly Pavilion showcases the fascinating dance between butterflies, moths, and the plants that surround them, an interaction that has been refined over the course of millions of years. See up close how butterflies use their tubular mouthparts to obtain nectar and witness caterpillars feed on leaves and go through the process of their transformation into adults. Various butterflies are present at different points during the season and the plants will grow and change. This means that each visit to the Butterfly Pavilion throughout the summer can be a different experience!
Some butterflies in the exhibit mate and lay eggs, however we regularly fill the pavilion with butterflies from all across the United States. Over half of the species we exhibit are oft-seen locals such as the monarch, mourning cloak, and California dogface. Some of the more exotic butterflies are shipped in from all across the country.
Natural history museums work to understand the natural world by obtaining and studying specimens that they collect. We ask questions and learn: Why does it look like that, how does it fit into the natural world, why is it a successful species? We share the knowledge we gain through research, by creating new live environments such as the pavilion to describe what we are studying behind the scenes in the Museum’s lab or out in the field.
This pretty sulfur butterfly has been designated our official state insect by the California State legislature. It can still be found in the foothills and lower mountain slopes where its larval host plant, false indigo, is common. Only the male butterfly has the pattern of a dog’s head on its wing from which the species gets its common name.
Monarchs are one of the most identifiable butterflies in North America and visitors often ask about their migration to Mexico each winter. The Monarchs in our area do not migrate south to Mexico. Instead, they fly to groves along our coastline to over winter.
These beautiful swallowtails are common in the Eastern U.S. where they are easily noticed because of their tendency to fly low and flap their wings slowly when visiting flowers for nectar. Their larvae are equally noticeable: