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  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Anna Wass, 1, and mother Charlene watch butterflies at a feeder inside the live butterfly exhibit at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory on Sunday. The annual exhibit began Saturday and continues through July 8.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Greta Minthorn, left and her mother Annette hold a butterfly inside the live butterfly exhibit at the Botanical Conservatory on Sunday.  

Monday, April 16, 2018 1:00 am

Butterflies delight Botanical Conservatory visitors

Popular exhibit takes wing again

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory's newest residents aren't shy.

To the delight of many visitors Sunday, the residents – recently hatched butterflies of varying exotic species – perched on children's and adults' noses, fingers and arms, often remaining still for photographs.

“They'll come to you,” said Tom Hegge, a supervisor at the Botanical Conservatory.

Sunday marked the second day of the popular live butterfly exhibit, now in its 16th year. It's the only show repeated annually, Hegge said, and it began Saturday with a line at the door.

“They were ready to go,” he said, estimating a few hundred people attended each weekend day. “We were just steady all day long.”

Along with entering the butterfly tent, visitors can view a live bug display that includes millipedes, beetles, milkweed bugs, cockroaches and scorpions.

The butterflies, however, got the limelight Sunday.

Warsaw resident Jennifer Hogenson posed for a photograph as a butterfly rested on her right index finger, a perch it seemed unwilling to leave. It didn't budge when Hogenson's companion, Ben Fullmer, held up his finger alongside hers.

“It seems pretty comfortable on her finger,” Fullmer said.

Sunday's cold and rainy weather prompted the Price family's visit to the Botanical Conservatory, mother Rachel Price said.

Her three daughters and son, ages 3 to 10, had energy to burn, she said, and it was a nice surprise to learn the butterfly exhibit had begun.

“You want it on you, too?” the Fort Wayne woman said to a daughter after she helped guide a butterfly on her son Ashton's nose.

Although an illustrated butterfly guide was available, mother-daughter pair Leah Black and Riley Shimizu, 9, learned identification isn't always easy when a butterfly's wings are closed.

About 35 to 40 butterflies occupied the tent Sunday, with many more waiting to hatch.

Timed right, visitors can watch as butterflies emerge from their cocoons; a viewing area is available outside the tent. The exhibit typically has about 125 to 160 butterflies, Hegge said.

The exhibit continues through July 8. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with Thursday open until 8 p.m. The conservatory is closed on Mondays.

Anytime is a good time to see the butterflies, Hegge said, but he noted they are most active in the afternoon, when it's warmer and the sun is at its brightest.

Visitors don't have to worry about fighting for the butterflies' attention. The staff ensures the tent doesn't get overcrowded, Hegge said.

“Everybody has their moment,” he said.

asloboda@jg.net