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Butterflies burst on the scene at Brookgreen Gardens

Courtesy Brookgreen Gardens

The newest additions to Brookgreen Gardens, the 300-acre sculpture garden and wildlife sanctuary near Myrtle Beach, don’t hang around long.

“They don’t live that long: three weeks to a month,” said Helen Benso, vice president of marketing for the gardens.

Benso was talking about the hundreds of colorful butterflies in the “Whispering Wings Butterfly Experience,” which opened last spring.

“In keeping with our mission, the exhibit primarily offers educational interpretation of the importance of butterflies in our environment,” said Benso. “All are native to the Southeast. None of them are the exotic ones from other countries.

“There are monarch, zebra longwing, polydamas swallowtails, pipevine swallowtails, spicebush swallowtails — we are big on swallowtails — julias, buckeyes, queens, painted lady and American lady.

“They have seasons just like plants: Some are spring, some are summer, and some are fall,” she said. “We will have different kinds throughout the year.”

The butterflies are located in a new 78-foot-long, 40-foot-wide structure. “It turns into a lush tropical garden with pathways and all the plants that butterflies like, either to eat or they need for habitat,” said Benso. “There are lots of trees and tropical plants.

“It is enclosed in a very light, fine wire mesh and is open to the elements.”

A window allows visitors to look into the pupae emergence room where they can see the pupae change from chrysalis to adult butterflies. “If you are lucky, you can watch a butterfly come out of its cocoon,” said Benso.

The “Whispering Wings Butterfly Experience” runs from April 1 to Oct. 31 as part of Brookgreen Gardens’ Lowcountry Zoo, the only accredited zoo on the coast of the Carolinas.

Brookgreen Gardens will have a series of new sculpture exhibits in its indoor galleries this year. Beginning in September and running for six months will be “Vanishing Acts,” an interpretive exhibit of endangered species of trees. The exhibit is on loan from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill.

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Butterflies burst on the scene at Brookgreen Gardens
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