Summer means the return of many things… you know, like bee stings and mosquito bites. But the influx of insects doesn't have to be a bad thing. Just look at Chicago Botanic Garden, where the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit shines a light on some beautiful bugs.
The exhibit, housed in a huge white mesh tent, is filled with hundreds of live butterflies of various sizes and colorings. The butterflies include species native to North and South America, Asia and Africa, as well as some that hail from right here in Illinois. A field guide is available to help you identify the species you see, as well as the flowers that make up their habitat.
If you've never been to a butterfly garden, you should know that the insects aren't picky about where they land-it easily could be on top of your head or right next to your foot (walk carefully!). Talk to kids beforehand to explain what to do if one lands on them: experts recommend blowing lightly until they take flight.
While you're there, be sure to spend a few minutes at the pupa emergence room, where you can spy butterflies in different stages of hatching from their cocoons-a sneaky science lesson if we've ever seen one.
And it's also a great reminder that insects don't have to be awful; sometimes they can just be awfully pretty.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
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