For the past 15 years, the annual Butterfly Pavilion showcases the fascinating dance between butterflies, moths, and the plants that surround them. In the pavilion, see up close how butterflies use their tubular mouthparts to obtain nectar and witness caterpillars feed on leaves and go through the process of their transformation into adults, and much, much, more.
This year, the Pavilion has a distinctive California feel. Of the 53 species of butterflies, 20 will be native to the Golden State. The Museum’s gardeners have also made a shift toward incorporating native plants — a natural source of food for the California flutterers—in order to tell the story of how butterflies survive in the wild.
Visitors to the Pavilion may see the state butterfly, the California dogface, munching on the foliage of the desert false indigo. Other native Southern California butterflies and plants include the painted lady, which eats the leaves of the bush mallow. The buckeye butterfly will have the nectar of the lilac verbena flowers to drink and the native black-and-cream colored mourning cloak may be seen snacking on arroyo willow leaves.
Outside the pavilion, the new Nature Gardens, a 3½-acre outdoor exhibit opening June 9, 2013, has been industriously planted with butterfly-friendly greenery on a grand scale. A giant living laboratory on the Museum’s north and east sides, the space will offer a range of activities for visitors to help them discover and engage in the natural world of Los Angeles, a biodiversity hotspot. The butterfly species that can only be seen in the Nature Gardens (because they breed well in open outdoor spaces) include the fiery skipper, Hylephila phyleus, which lays its eggs on some of the new grasses, and the gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, which lays its eggs on the newly planted buckwheat.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., downtown, 213.763.3466. nhm.org