Judy Istock Butterfly Haven

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One walk through the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is all you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

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Time of Year
Year Round
Level 2

Experience over 40 species of exotic, free-flying butterflies and several stunning bird species from the Southern hemisphere in our 2,700 square-foot greenhouse. Complete with serene pools of water, flowers, tropical trees, and 1,000 butterflies, it always feels like summer in the Butterfly Haven.

Don’t forget to join us for our daily 2pm First Flight Butterfly Release. Learn about the life cycle from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, then watch as newly-emerged butterflies and moths take flight for the very first time. Want to spend even more time in the Butterfly Haven? Learn more about our weekly Butterfly Haven Yoga sessions.

Access to the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven and the First Flight Butterfly Release are included with admission.

Dr. Doug Taron Chrysalis Lab

Have you ever wondered how butterflies from all over the world get to our museum? They're shipped to us in the mail as chrysalises from butterfly farms around the world. Visitors have the opportunity to see beautiful tropical butterflies and moths metamorphose from pupa to adult through the Dr. Doug Taron Chrysalis Lab!

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When we receive a shipment, our scientists place it in a sleeve cage to check that no unwanted hitchhikers such as parasitoid flies or wasps came along for a ride as they open it up. Once opened, our team remove the chrysalises and sort them by species into trays. As they sort the chrysalises, they inspect and count each one. After sorting and labeling, the chrysalises are mounted onto foam boards to hang inside the emergence cases. This is where they will eclose into their adult forms, and visitors can get a look in the process through the lab’s special glass cases. The process can take anywhere from a couple of days to as long as several months! After the butterflies have emerged and fully expanded their wings, they are ready to fly! They are transferred to a release cage which our team opens inside of the Butterfly Haven to release them into the exhibit.

The Chrysalis Lab was dedicated to our chief curator emeritus, Dr. Doug Taron, in recognition of his nearly 30 years of commitment to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, as well as his leadership in butterfly conservation and community science.

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Keep Exploring

Experience our First Flight Butterfly Release from the comfort of your own home! Check out the video below to watch Marjorie release a kaleidoscope of butterflies into the Butterfly Haven for the very first time. How many species can you recognize?

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