Step inside the Butterfly House at Miller Nature Preserve in Avon, and enter a world of glorious beauty. More than 13,000 tourists visited the attraction after it debuted last June, and Lorain County Metro Parks naturalist Leslie McNutt expects even greater numbers this year. The new structure, which replaces the venue that opened in 2012, cost just under $23,000 to construct and was funded by endowment funds with the park system.
“The old building was showing signs of wear, so it was definitely time to rebuild,” McNutt says. “The new one is larger and features a spacious path that allows visitors to walk around, instead of through the house. It gives people the chance to spread out and really look at the butterflies.”
The Butterfly House is home to species native to Ohio, including the buckeye, swallowtail and monarch. Others, including the zebra longwing, malachite and white peacock, are indigenous to southern states.
“We have about eight to 10 species here at one time,” McNutt says. “It’s a very nice selection of the familiar and unfamiliar. Since butterflies only live two to four weeks as adults, we get a new shipment of butterflies from Florida every week, which keeps the population at a high level.”
The plants and flowers offering a friendly habitat and food for the colorful insects include milkweed, dill, snapdragon, parsley, daisy, lantana, yarrow, astilbe, coneflower and cosmos. All are readily available in local nurseries so Ohio gardeners can attract the winged wonders to their own backyards.
Other unique design elements include a fountain that provides the butterflies with a source of water. McNutt adds that when viewed from the patio, the exterior of the house resembles a butterfly about to take flight.
The Butterfly House is open daily 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., from Father’s Day to Labor Day. Admission is free, but those wishing to lend support can become a Butterfly Buddy. For a $10 donation, each participant receives a butterfly button; a wooden butterfly ornament to decorate, display in the house and take home at the end of the season; and the opportunity to feed the gentle creatures with sugar water placed on a Q-tip.
“Butterflies are just so pretty,” McNutt says. “They don’t bite or sting. They’re the perfect insect. We all take delight in seeing them, and I enjoy educating people about their lifecycle.”