GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — While the butterflies at Fredrick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park are a sign that warmer weather is approaching, it can also be an escape from the cold that is still around.

“The Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory is always kept a little bit above 80 degrees for the butterfly exhibition,” Steve LaWarre, vice president of horticulture, who helps organize the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition, said. “We also try to maintain 50% humidity.”

As you might imagine, creating an environment suitable for both butterflies and plants requires substantial climate control methods.

“Obviously, our environmental control system is able to support a room like this,” LaWarre said. “So we just crank up the heat, crank up the humidity. We’ve got specialty fog nozzles throughout the space that help with that humidity.”

It isn’t just the climate required to help the butterflies thrive. It also requires re-creating their natural environment.

“We have plant materials that are good nectar plants,” LaWarre said. “So they’re a good food source that supplements some of the rotten fruit and some of the other nectar dishes that you see. Those nectar dishes and that rotten fruit go a long way, but the butterflies really do best when they have real plants that they’re also feeding from.”

There is one thing out of the garden’s control, and it’s something many of us have dealt with since the pandemic.

“Getting the butterflies here every week (is the biggest challenge),” LaWarre said. “Sometimes there’s shipping challenges. You know, these are live organisms so it’s important that we get them here quickly from their tropical locations. So if there’s ever any delays, those are the things that kind of set into motion some quick call-to-action from the team to pull together and get everything open and placed so that it’s ready to go.”

With hundreds of butterflies out and with hundreds more on the way, it’s clear they pull together regardless. So, whether one is looking to take in the butterflies of the world, or just get out of West Michigan’s dull weather, LaWarre says they’re ready to go.

“Immediately when you walk into this space, you feel that humidity, you feel that heat, and you’re basically in the tropics,” he said.

Butterflies Are Blooming runs March 1 through April 30.