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Butterflies blooming at Dow Gardens

By Taylor Syring
On March 17, 2014

Dow Gardens is featuring its 16th annual Butterflies in Bloom event, which began on February 28 and runs through April 20. The garden’s conservatory is home to over 200 butterfly species from various regions around the world during this event.

This event is $5 for adults, free for children under 5 years and $1 for children 6-17 years. A discounted price of $1 is offered to students with a valid student ID.

Elly Maxwell, entomologist at Dow Gardens, from Freeland, has always been interested in insects and has orchestrated the event for the past eight years.

“I was always that weird little kid that liked bugs,” Maxwell said. “It's exciting because these butterflies come from all over the world. For many people this is the only chance they’ll have to see them.”

Midland native Eileithyia Knoll, 6, comes to see the butterflies with her family every spring.

“The best thing is to stay still and they'll come to your hands,” Eileithyia said. “I'm not very good at that.”

Butterflies in Bloom is made possible by volunteers who care for the butterflies and answer questions for spectators.

Bob Hartley, the door attendant, has been a regular volunteer for the event and enjoys meeting the visitors. His job is to ensure none of the insects get out, as many featured species are not native to Michigan and could have harmful effects on the local butterfly species.

“I just stay here during the butterfly period,” Hartley said. “I enjoy it; we have to go through the spiel with little kids.”

Volunteer Debbie Babinski worked for the City of Midland before becoming involved with the Butterflies in Bloom event.

“I love watching the kids and watching how gentle they are,” Babinski said. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”

Butterflies in Bloom is open to the public 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekly, with hours extended to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. All ages are welcome, as are photographers. For more information visit

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