Making the most of Butterflies LIVE!

Butterflies LIVE! opens today at Lewis Ginter. Here are some things to know before you and the fam head on over…and some tips for making the most of your time while you’re there.

Let me start off by saying this: Butterflies LIVE!–one of Richmond’s most anticipated springtime events–does not need my “help” to be considered delightful. To enjoy it requires no planning. If you and yours just wandered over to Lewis Ginter Bontanical Garden right now (and you could because the exhibit opens today), I guarantee you’d be smiling and gasping like total goofs within a few seconds of walking in the door.

That said, if I’ve got the goods to make your butterfly appreciation experience even better, why not share them? And, thanks to the Butterflies LIVE! sneak peek the folks at Lewis Ginter gave me1 yesterday, goods are things I’ve got! So! Here are some things to know before you and the fam head on over…and some tips for making the most of your time while you’re there…

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Layer it up

While Richmond’s weather still has the potential to be a bit all over the place, Lewis Ginter keeps the Conservatory’s North Wing nice and balmy for our winged friends. Before heading into the exhibit, you and your kids will want to shed jackets and sweaters so you can spend your visit peeping at the butterflies instead of perspiring all over them. Storage cubbies are located right inside the exhibit’s staffed entrance/exit area.

No strollers or big bags

As Lewis Ginter’s website explains, “Butterflies like to hitchhike.” For that reason, strollers, book bags, tote bags, giant diaper bags, and the like are not permitted in the exhibit area. Strollers can be parked outside of the Conservatory, and bags can be left in the same spot where you tucked away your jackets and sweaters. (Wheelchairs, however, are permitted.)

Watch your feet!

Fun fact: butterflies go wherever the heck they want! So when you’re working your way through the exhibit, you’ll probably seem some hanging out on the floor. Remind your kids to watch where they’re walking and to take it slow. Besides, if you rush, you might miss seeing something this awesome:

Don’t freak out…and do NOT touch

As I mentioned above, there are hundreds of these guys flitting around in this exhibit, so it’s possible that a butterfly could land on you or your children during your visit. If so, please refrain from attempting to snuggle OR frantically remove said butterfly. Lewis Ginter’s staff and volunteers are trained to help if any children become uncomfortable during the exhibit, and one of the Garden’s butterfly curators–yes, that’s a thing–are available to handle any insects that can’t take a hint.

Check out the babies

Well, not babies exactly, but this is still very exciting. New to the exhibit this year is the Butterfly Nursery where lucky visitors can actually watch native butterfly species emerge from their chrysalides–the coolest part of the butterfly life cycle happening right in front of your dang faces, guys! This special box is located right there in the North Wing, and different species will be rotated throughout the exhibit’s run.

Remember “10 and 2” (on Saturdays)

Newly-emerged butterflies will be released into the exhibit daily at 10:00 AM with additional releases happening at 2:00 PM on Saturdays. Some days they’ll just release a few, while on other days they could release a dozen, so it’s definitely worth making an effort to see that.

Visit the Children’s Garden

No visit to Lewis Ginter is complete without a visit to the Children’s Garden, and the kind folks who make the garden “go” have dreamed up all kinds of great butterfly-centric activities to keep your little ones busy while they’re there. Kids can complete the Butterflies LIVE!-themed KidsQuest; take part in butterfly-related imaginative play; and explore the Garden’s official monarch butterfly waystation, which provides milkweed, nectar sources, and shelter for these beauties as they migrate through North America.

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Butterflies LIVE! at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (1800 Lakeside Avenue) is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM through October 11th and is included with admission: $12 for adults; $11 for seniors; $8 for children ages 3 to 12; and free for members and kids under 3. For more information visit

  1. Not just me, obviously. I’m not some sort of Butterfly VIP. I’m open to the option though. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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