Andy Fox stands next to the door that enters into the green, screened-in butterfly house to instruct the young father-and-son duo on how to enjoy and get the most from their visit, without disturbing the butterflies.
The instruction set is routine after 10 years of volunteering at Peck Farm Park, but Fox, of Geneva, keeps the conversation casual to welcome eager, young minds.
Fox’s 10th anniversary matches the anniversary of the butterfly house at the Geneva park, and Manager Trish Burns promises exciting activities this summer.
Peck Farm isn’t the only butterfly house in the suburban area offering special events this summer: Brookfield Zoo and The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum both offer visitors a unique, close-up butterfly experience for Illinois families to learn about and appreciate butterflies.
Burns said the park is offering visitors the opportunity to adopt a butterfly from the pupa room, and release it into the butterfly house. Adopters can visit their butterflies through the end of the season, Sept. 22, when the house closes.
Visitors can also partake in The Great Butterfly Chase, going to parks throughout the Geneva area and tracking down sculptures of butterflies, each with its own poem.
If you’re looking within Chicago for an adopt-a-butterfly program, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum also offers visitors this opportunity.
With nearly 1,000 chrysalides arriving each week, butterfly enthusiasts have the opportunity to adopt and name a butterfly and then release it into the haven.
The Nature Museum is unique because it offers both a 2,700-square-foot butterfly haven and a butterfly garden, both open year-round. The museum offers a window into the research room to watch curators at work.
Doug Taron, curator of biology and vice president of research and conservation at the museum, said working in havens gives him the important opportunity to help preserve endangered butterfly species and promote eco-restoration to local habitats.
The Brookfield Zoo similarly gives visitors the opportunity to engage with zookeepers and learn about the preservation of butterflies. They staff their exhibit, open daily through Labor Day weekend, so people can ask questions about the life cycle of the butterfly and their habitats, said Jeff Mitchell, associate curator of aquatics and reptiles at the zoo.
“You can learn and predict just by watching them and looking at wing shape and pattern. People make connections on their own and then realize that butterflies are important to save and preserve,” Mitchell said.
Back out at Peck Farm Park, Fox vigilantly watches the families exit, asking them to check for hitchhikers.
“We wouldn’t want any butterflies sneaking out with you!” he says with a laugh.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.