Butterflies Arrive in Living Lab

By Steven Scarpa, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications

A group of about 30 red, white, and black Postman butterflies have taken up residence amongst the flowers in the new Living Lab up on the soon to be reopened third floor.

“Having live animals provides a way to see animal behavior and learn about creatures that people don’t often encounter. They provide a great opportunity to teach about ecological concepts and the need for ecosystem conservation,” said Jim Sirch, coordinator, public education. 

The butterflies, known as Heliconius melpomene, are found in from Central to South America, especially on the slopes of the Andes mountains among open terrain, forest edges, and occasionally near rivers and streams. They are known as one of the butterflies with the longest lifespan. 

While living at the Peabody, the butterflies are fed sugar water mixed with protein powder and collect nectar from the flowers around them. Staff members are planning to add to their homes the plants that provide pollen. 

In addition to offering a touch of beauty and whimsy to the Living Lab, the butterflies have lessons to teach and inspiration to give. 

“I think most zoologists and conservation biologists first got their introduction to the world of nature by looking at live animals. I distinctly remember the very first snake I ever touched was at a zoo when I was five. And, I remember every zoo I went to as a kid and what species they each had and how great it was to see all of them. It made a lasting impression on me. I believe that having live animals on exhibit can serve as inspiration for the next generation of scientists,” said Greg Watkins-Colwell, senior collections manager for vertebrate zoology, herpetology, and ichthyology. 

Last updated on April 16, 2024

More from: