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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 4:39 pm | Fair 61º


‘Butterflies Alive!’ Returns to Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

The exhibit opens Saturday and runs through Sept. 11

This summer, hundreds of colorfully vibrant butterflies will fly free in a lush garden pavilion at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History with the return of the popular “Butterflies Alive” exhibit, open Saturday, May 21 through Sunday, Sept. 11.

“Butterflies Alive!” brings nature up close and personal as guests walk among 30 species of butterflies, including Santa Barbara natives such as the Monarch, Painted Lady and Western Tiger Swallowtail, and migrating visitors such as Cabbage White or California Dogface (California state insect). Identification sheets aid guests in recognizing the various species.

The pavilion is filled with plants and flowers especially suited for the butterflies, and water features and benches are nestled among the winding garden pathways.

“Natural history museums strive to understand and interpret the natural world for our guests,” said Karl Hutterer, the museum’s executive director. “By bringing these delicate yet remarkable butterflies to Santa Barbara, we are sharing our passion for nature with the community. What are the challenges facing these wondrous creatures? How can we help ensure the continued vitality of their populations and habitats? Perhaps together we can find the answers.”

Butterflies are known for their colorfulness and beauty, but they are also complex creatures with fascinating facets and features. Butterflies have no bones, for example. Instead, they move by using more than 1,000 muscles. They are cold-blooded and can’t fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees or if their environment’s temperature falls below 50 degrees.

Butterflies in general are extremely sensitive to environmental changes, and many species have become endangered or extinct because of habitat destruction. California’s butterfly populations are showing signs of stress, primarily because of habitat loss. The Endangered Species Act protects 14 California butterfly species.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located just behind the Old Mission, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with certain exceptions. Entrance into “Butterflies Alive!” is included with general museum admission — $11 for adults, $8 for seniors (age 65 or older) and teens (ages 13 to 17), $7 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children age 3 or younger. Parking is free.

— Easter Moorman is the marketing and public relations manager for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

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