Don’t touch the butterflies.
Don’t pick them up. Don’t try to catch them. Don’t step on them. Don’t leave with any of them on your clothes.
Entering and leaving the new butterfly garden at the Science Museum of Western Virginia isn’t like a simple traipse into a field. There are rules you have to follow — many of them required by federal law.
The butterfly garden with its fragile resident monarchs and painted ladies will open its doors to the public Saturday during Center in the Square’s Family Day of Discovery that serves as its grand reopening. Enforcing the rules will keep volunteers fluttering.
Derek Kellogg, the museum’s lead animal care specialist, explained that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict rules designed to prevent non-native butterfly species from escaping from the garden.
The no-escape rules apply to unregulated butterfly species as well, as the USDA sees potential for those butterflies to become carriers of germs and parasites contracted from more exotic tropical butterflies that will eventually join them.
To minimize chances of escape, there are two vestibules that function like air locks. One is for entering, one is for exiting. There will be volunteers stationed at each vestibule. A visitor will be escorted inside, then asked to remain in the vestibule while the volunteer explains the rules.