Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, November 5, 2021

Butterflies return to the Aquarium

Thousands of the Tennessee Aquarium’s most popular residents have returned after being absent for more than a year and a half.

Thanks to supply chain disruptions, the aquarium has been unable to source butterflies to fill its Ocean Journey building’s Butterfly Garden since early 2020. However, the gallery is once again filled with the jewel-like insects.

The garden houses between 1,000 and 1,500 butterflies. These can come from any of more than two dozen species, including cerulean-winged Blue Morphos, enormous Tawny Owls with their telltale eyespots and more.

Every week, about 500 butterfly chrysalises – the life stage between caterpillars and adults – arrive at the aquarium from Costa Rica. By raising specific plants, Costa Rican farmers can attract butterflies that use the plants as egg-laying sites and feeding sources for their offspring.

Guests can view the cocoon-like chrysalises hanging from racks through a viewing window in the garden.

Their shells often look drastically different from the butterflies within. For example, the familiar orange, black and white Monarch Butterfly comes from a gold-fringed, jade chrysalis, while the leaf-like pink or green chrysalises are host to yellow Cloudless Sulfurs.

If guests time their visit right – usually by arriving early in the day – they might see the butterflies in the act of emerging or flapping their wings to dry. Visitors can also watch a butterfly release when newly emerged butterflies are collected and relocated to the gallery.

To accompany the return of this long-absent feature of the Ocean Journey experience, the aquarium is also bringing the film “Flight of the Butterflies 3D” back to its IMAX theater.

The theater will offer daily screenings of the documentary, which follows the 3,000-mile journey of the Monarch Butterfly from Central Mexico to Canada and back again, through Wednesday, Nov. 24.

This migration takes multiple generations to complete and follows a route that brings the insects through Chattanooga.

“Flight of the Butterflies 3D” was last shown on the theater’s six-story screen in 2012. At that time, the IMAX theater was still using physical film reels. Since then, the documentary has been digitally remastered and the theater has undergone an audio-visual upgrade to IMAX with Laser.

View the screening schedule and purchase tickets to “Flight of the Butterflies 3D” at tnaqua.org.

Source: Tennessee Aquarium