Butterfly gardens and butterfly houses are popular attractions that are increasingly added by zoos and botanical gardens. Entomologists and butterfly collectors have long noted the close relationship between butterflies and plants. Closely related species of butterfly often feed on closely related species of plants. WTM Forbes even titled a paper, “Caterpillars as botanists” to capture the “coevolutionary” relationships. It is only fitting that butterflies be included in botanical exhibits.
Interest in butterflies is widespread and includes Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II. Churchill was not yet prime minister when he was planning the addition of a butterfly house in 1939. Churchill collected butterflies as a boy and was a serious butterfly collector as an adult, including many species collected during his travels to South Africa and India.
World War II and his elevation to Prime Minister put his plans for his butterfly house on hold until 1946. At his Chartwell house, Churchill insisted on planting thistles and other nectar sources to attract butterflies and experimented with growing host plants for rare butterfly species.
The butterfly garden at the Charwell House in England has been restored just this year and recently opened to visitors.
Tiger Swallowtail nectaring on Bergamot in a Butterfly Garden in Indiana