The Roper Mountain Science Center Butterflies Are Here!
By Lee Ann Carter
In all of nature there is nothing more beautiful or interesting than the butterfly. For centuries they have been the source of both myths and legends. The ancient Greeks believed whenever an adult butterfly emerged from its chrysalis a new human soul was born. While the Irish thought butterflies were the souls of the dead waiting to go through purgatory. Today, the fascination is still just as strong, and Greenville’s very own Roper Mountain Science Center, home to Friday Starry Nights, Second Saturday, and Roper Mountain Holiday Lights, is honored to bring the very first interactive Butterfly Adventure to the Upstate.
On Saturday, June 11th at 9AM the Center’s inaugural Butterfly Festival will kick off this unique four week event. And in addition to Butterfly Adventure, for the first time in Roper Mountain’s 31-year history almost the entire 62-acre facility will be accessible to the general public during the week. Butterfly Adventure will be open Monday through Saturday 9AM until 2PM, through Saturday, July 9th, which is also the day of the Center’s annual Blueberry Festival. On Festival days the exhibit will remain open until 3PM. RMSC is closed Sundays and July 4th.
Currently there are no indoor butterfly habitats in South Carolina, making RMSC’s Butterfly Adventure a one-of-a-kind event for those living in and around the Upstate. Guests will enjoy an immersive opportunity to interact with brightly colored butterflies as they glide, dip and flutter in and around the Fred W. Symmes Tropical Rainforest. There will also be educational displays detailing the butterfly life cycle and skilled RMSC staff members on hand to answer butterfly related questions and make sure everyone enjoys this fascinating event to the fullest.
Wander through the tropical foliage and be delighted by hundreds of native North American butterflies including our own South Carolina state butterfly, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Stroll carefully as some butterflies may be resting on the pathways. Then stop and gaze toward the ceiling and see the different species playing hide and seek among the rainforest rafters. Increase the chances of having a butterfly rest on your shoulder, head or outstretched finger by wearing brightly colored clothing. Butterflies are attracted to sweet smells so ladies should consider wearing a little floral scented perfume. And of course don’t forget your camera or smart phone for taking plenty of up close and personal pictures!
Admission to Butterfly Adventure includes access to the nearby outdoor Butterfly Garden, where specific host flora has been planted to attract and nourish local butterflies. The kids can run, skip and jump along the Center’s nature trail. Then while you relax inside the shady arboretum, let them climb in and around the tree houses and natural playground. Tour the open-air Living History Farm and see how our South Carolina forefathers lived. Explore the blacksmith shop, pet and feed the farm animals, and imagine learning the three “R’s” in an authentic one-room schoolhouse. Depending on the day, there may be volunteers in period dress offering live demonstrations of some of the daily chores required before the introduction of today’s modern conveniences.
Continue your day of fun by exploring the Darrell W. Harrison Hall of Natural Sciences where interactive exhibits excite and challenge. The Marine Lab includes a tide pool tank where guests can spend time with a live stingray and other small aquatic creatures. The Design Lab encourages visitors to put on their thinking caps and solve interesting hands-on challenges. In the Ecology Lab there are numerous different habitats showcasing our state’s varied geography and wildlife from the mountains to the sea. Featured inside the Ecology Lab Invertebrate Zoo is a colorful Monarch butterfly life cycle mural, the perfect complement to Butterfly Adventure.
Now before you think the RMSC staff has been running around with a net searching through the Center’s bushes and shrubs for butterflies to fill the exhibit, let me explain how it really works. Throughout the United States there are USDA governed butterfly hatcheries that carefully raise thousands of different butterfly species. These hatcheries must follow strict governmental regulations in all aspects of the process from breeding to shipping. And until just recently the Butterfly Adventure caterpillars were at a hatchery doing nothing more than constantly eating in order to grow big and strong.
Once the Butterfly Adventure butterflies emerged from their chrysalis they were carefully placed in individual envelopes which were then cushioned with tissue paper and packed into small cartons. These boxes were loaded into larger insulated boxes and surrounded by ice packs, keeping the butterflies in a partial hibernation stage. Now at their Greenville summer home, the process has begun of releasing them into their new habitat. Because different species have different life cycles, fresh butterflies will be added to the four-week exhibit on a regular basis.
Roper Mountain Science Center Director Michael Weeks invites everyone in the Upstate to come out and enjoy the Center’s inaugural interactive Butterfly Adventure exhibit. “We here at the Center have worked diligently to create a butterfly immersion experience which will provide each guest a unique opportunity to enjoy educational displays while learning about all things butterfly from our highly trained staff members,” Weeks said.
Tickets can easily be purchased online at ropermountain.org. Admission for adults is $8 and $7 for children ages 4 through 12. There is no admission charge for children 3 and under and those with RMSC memberships. Roper Mountain Science Center membership provides free or discounted admission to many of the fantastic events and attractions held year-round including Second Saturday and the T.C. Hooper Planetarium reopening in January, 2017 with an exciting 360 degree full immersion dome, new sound system, new lighting and so much more! Take a moment and check out all the great membership options available…your kids and grandkids will thank you!