We are in touch with nature at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in St Louis, Missouri.
This March (2009), the 2nd Annual March Morpho Madness at the Butterfly House has been expanded, as the first March Morpho was such a success last year. Staff will release hundreds of new Morpho butterflies each Saturday from February 28 to end of March at 11am and 2pm, and each Sunday at 2pm. We went last year and know that it gets very crowded, so we knew to go early to get entrance tickets.
The Butterfly House has many gorgeous butterflies fluttering freely in the glass-domed hothouse (between 60-80 species at any one time)—a palette of bright colors against green leaves and pretty flowers. All are beautiful, each with their own flying pattern, and preferred food. But, each weekend in March, most noticeable are the blue Morphos—thousands of iridescent blue wings dipping and swooping restlessly, the creatures flitting through the whole area enclosed by the glass dome, sometimes grazing past our heads, or arms, sometimes landing on a person. It’s an amazing experience to be so close to that many of these gorgeous creatures. We are awed and humbled by their ephemeral beauty.
At 11am, two of the staff unzip a large net-mesh cage, and out flitter about 250 more Morphos, a cloud of shimmering blue. Some fly straight up, others into the bushes, others stop to rest to get strength in their wings. The Morphos seem to float gracefully, rather than fly, dipping and soaring. What a wonderful experience. The Butterfly House has three types of Morphos: the Common Blue Morpho, which has almost solid blue wings; the Achilles Morpho with bold blue stripes on darker wings; and the Amathonte Morpho, which is also all blue but more shiny metallic. This visit we are lucky enough to see all of them very clearly and close-up.
What I wrote last year is still true, so I’ll repeat it: We feel very honored to witness this incredible sight, which would never be possible in the wild. The excited chattering and comments in the dome show just how beloved these gorgeous creatures are. We marvel at the delicate beauty, but also at the inner strength of these tiny creatures. Butterflies are a symbol of metamorphosis and of hope: They start out as fat and ugly and become something beautiful and ephemeral, almost not of this earth. People like to believe that we can change and make ourselves better—have our own metamorphosis. Perhaps that is why people are so attracted to butterflies.
The Butterfly House is in Faust Park, along I-64/40 West. Exit at Clarkson/Olive, turn right on Olive, and drive along Olive about a mile on the left.