The Butterfly Place Offers Beauty Up-Close

article image
Bob Wilson, The Butterfly Place
NATURAL HABITAT: A zebra swallowtail butterfly, top, perched on a tropical plant called Lantana, and a Graphium agamemnon, above, sat on a Pentas plant, which is also tropical and used often at The Butterfly Place in Westford, Mass. By late April, plants at The Butterfly Place, which are planted each February, begin taking shape, as seen below, and by July, the garden will appear junglelike.

The Butterfly Place in Westford, Massachusetts, is an indoor butterfly garden that is housed within a 3,100-square-foot glass atrium that stands more than 27 feet high at its peak. It opened about 15 years ago, when owner George Leslie, a businessman and butterfly lover, sold his microfilm company to pursue a career working with butterflies.

Leslie hired Bob Wilson to do the planting and tend the garden, as well as to raise caterpillars and serve as the technical director of the facility.

Unlike most butterfly facilities, The Butterfly Place closes every fall and reopens each spring. After closing, Leslie and Wilson remove most of the plants, and they replant them the following February before opening for the new season.

The plants at The Butterfly Place are mainly tropical because they grow all season. During the facility’s season, one can see up to 500 butterflies in the atrium, representing as many as 50 different species from around the world. And butterflies that are native to the New England region are featured whenever possible.

Visitors can either walk within the atrium or view the butterflies through the windows of the observation room. Display cases that contain butterflies and moths at various stages of development are interspersed within the observation area. Each exhibit includes an explanation of the occupants within the display cases, and there is also a video presentation that features the life cycle of a butterfly. Leslie or Wilson also make themselves available at the ‘Show & Tell Bench’ to answer questions and share their knowledge with visitors.

The Butterfly Place is handicapped-accessible, including a picnic area, and Leslie and Wilson encourage visitors to bring their cameras in order to capture the beauty of one of nature’s most beautiful creatures.