Moms and Money: Roston Native Butterfly House

An 8 year old girl holds butterflies while visiting the Roston Native Butterfly House.
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 10:11 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - May through September, the Roston Native Butterfly House is filled caterpillars, cocoons, and butterflies, all parts of the Metamorphosis process. For budding scientists and artists, it’s a chance to see some of nature’s most beautiful creatures up close.

“Everybody loves butterflies,” said Chris Barnhart, Curator of the Roston Native Butterfly House. “What’s not to like? They’re lovely, they’re delicate.”

Barnhart said thousands come out to see the butterflies each season.

“We’ve got toddlers, we’ve got elderly folks, everybody in between,” said Barnhart. “There’s photographers and gardeners.”

Barnhart, a former Missouri State biology professor, said his love of butterflies started as a young boy and grew when he developed a friendship with the late Dr. BIll Roston.

“This was his idea was to have a native butterfly house and that was 14 years ago,” said Barnhart. “So, I kind of took it over after he had a stroke and we’ve been doing it ever since, my wife and I share equally. It’s a lot of grunt work because we raise most of the butterflies and moths that are displayed in here.”

If Barnhart or his wife aren’t there, they have a team of volunteers and paid docents on hand to answer a wide array of questions from visitors.

“I think the the most educational talks that we have are with adults that come in and are interested in planting to attract butterflies and we can tell them, which host plants to plant and what they can expect,” said Barnhart. “

Barnhart thinks it’s the opportunity to witness one of nature’s most magical processes, first hand, that brings in thousands each year.

“I know people appreciate metamorphosis,” said Barnhart. “The idea that you can, at some point, just switch into something completely different. Everybody would like to be able to shed their skin and fly away.”

The Roston Native Butterfly House is free to the public, donations are accepted. It’s open May through September, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will not open in the rain. It’s located in Nathanael Greene Park. Click here for more information.

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