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Tropical Butterflies at Texas Discovery Gardens

Step foot in the tiny rainforest inside Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, and you’re gently bombarded with butterflies that glance off your arms and knees and waft past on their way to the nearest fragrant flower. In your periphery you’ll catch flashes of color against the green foliage as the multicolored fliers bat their wings and reveal their vivid markings, like the iridescent blue morpho, a crowd favorite.

Their home inside the Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House & Insectarium, which was renovated in 2009 to house butterflies year-round, is a thriving, 100-percent organic oasis that mimics their natural habitat with rainforest trees and flowering plants. New butterflies are shipped in weekly from tropical countries in the South Pacific, Central and South America and even from Texas. But a trip to the remote corners of the Malaysian wilderness couldn’t possibly bring you the vast array of butterfly species amassed in this one place and confined to the two-story, square building with glass windows, like a neatly wrapped gift box bathed in sunlight.

Feel the rush of warm air as you enter the humidity-controlled space and the light spray from the mister overhead, which helps to keep the butterflies alive. If the humidity isn’t just right, the weather-sensitive creatures will die even sooner than their average lifespan of just two weeks to six months.

Gaze down from the sloping pathway that follows along the edge of the building to view the tropical environment – and your little ones, should they run ahead of you – from every angle. Wear bright clothes or perfume and walk slowly to make yourself an attractive perch. It’s good luck if a butterfly lands on your shoulder, and with the more than 300 butterflies in the garden at a time, the odds are better than ever.

To get a closer look at butterflies still forming inside their chrysalises, check out the emergence chamber, where rows of different species at varying sizes and stages of metamorphosis hang in a glass display. Once fully developed, the butterflies are released into the garden’s indoor environment to join the rest, with no other plans than to find more nectar – even if it means bumping into a few curious visitors.