Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House

at the Springfield Botanical Gardens

at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park

An "Up Close and Personal" Look

The Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House lets you get an up-close look at native butterflies as they transform from egg to caterpillar, from caterpillar to chrysalis, and finally from chrysalis to butterfly! Learn about host plants and how to attract butterflies to your home landscape. Interpretive guides will help you find critters and answer your butterfly questions. The Butterfly House is a favorite field trip destination for group tours. The Butterfly House had 15,332 official visitors in 2010 followed by 17,001 in 2011. In 2013, the visitors totalled over 23,000. 2014 ended with over 26,000, a record number of visitors. And 2015 brought 31,769 visitors to this distinctive and outstanding feature of the Botanical Gardens. Read "Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House 2015 Season in Review" for a full report.

Dr. Bill Roston
Only Native Butterfly House

This is the only native butterfly house in Missouri that operates from mid-May through September. We are here dedicated to the conservation of our dwindling number of native butterflies—these are the butterflies you might see in your own gardens. The Butterfly House looks like a greenhouse, but instead of glass it is covered in fine netting that keeps the butterflies inside for your enjoyment. What you will discover in the house is the life cycle of our most common Ozark butterflies. Inside, are thirty types of host plants, on which the female butterfly can lay eggs. You can see the butterflies laying their eggs; you can see the caterpillars emerge and develop into pupa. You may even see the magic moment when the adult butterfly emerges from the pupa. There is literature available to assist you in your education if a volunteer is not there to guide you through.



Summer Hours start Monday, June 1 for the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House at the Springfield Botanical Gardens, Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave, Springfield, MO. The whole family is welcome from 10 a.m. to dusk weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends! Individual and family admission is free but donations are encouraged to help with the continued operations of the Butterfly House. Plus, guided group tours are available for a reasonable fee, call 417.891.1515 for a reservation. Note- weather conditions can reduce the hours the Butterfly House is open. Any questions please call first. Come visit us, you will be glad you did!

Tram Service

The free tram service will be provided from 1–4:30 pm on weekends, April through October. The tram service will pick up from the main parking lot at the Botanical Center near the east entrance. It will make a basic loop around Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park past many of the gardens and attractions.  The tram is sponsored by the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department.

See also: The Butterfly Garden

Explore a garden of host plants for caterpillars and butterflies! This garden showcases plants to attract an amazing variety of butterflies to the home landscape. Chase a butterfly or two and pick up some ideas to try at home! Butterflies use two different types of plants - those that provide nectar for the adults to eat (nectar plant), and those that provide food for their offspring (host plant).

Dial & Discover

What else can you find in the Butterfly House and Garden? All the gardens and special features in the park are part of a self-guided audio tour. Call 417.213.3016, then enter 46# for the Butterfly House and 47# for the small garden just west of the Butterfly House, and 45# for the Butterfly Garden. There’s no cost except your minutes, try it out!


Photo by Roy Thompson

Butterfly Festival during July of each year.

This free event is a favorite of children and adults and celebrates all things butterfly-related. Children’s activities include crafts and a caterpillar petting zoo. Vendors set up shop selling a variety of plants and garden-related merchandise. A series of classes including butterfly photography and butterfly identification are offered.

Monarch Tagging in September

Volunteer tagging reveals the general movements of the Monarch throughout the western states and allows us to learn about how climate trends and human encroachment affect their migration patterns and populations.

Get Involved

Want to make children smile? You can become a trained volunteer docent! Help visitors gain a better understanding of butterflies, butterfly gardening and the natural habitat in which butterflies thrive. Learn the difference between butterflies & moths and butterfly identification. Volunteer a few hours, one day a week, or one day a month. Schedules are flexible. Contact us for details, call 417.891.1515.

Create your own butterfly garden or register your garden as a Monarch Waystation with the Friends of the Garden informative brochures available in the Butterfly House and at the Botanical Center.

pdf  How to Make a Butterfly Garden (1.3 MB)

pdf  Create a Monarch Waystation (314.36 kB)

icon Construction Details for a Native Butterfly House (43 kB)

Pollination and Conservation: Sex, the Single Flower and You, On-line Resources & Books of Interest

By Sarah Dewey, revised & expanded 2015

On-line Resources with new listings:

http://grownative.org/ - sponsored by the Missouri Prairie Foundation, has lists of suppliers, helps with plant selection, provides a list of alternative native plants for commonly used plants, landscape guides and much more.

http://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2010/05/nativeplantsrevision_2012_07web.pdf - “Native Plants For Your Landscape” prepared by the MO Dept. of Conservation has garden plans and descriptions of appropriate plants for Missouri.

http://millionpollinatorgardens.org/ - Public outreach from national, regional, conservation and gardening groups in response to President’s Executive Strategy to “Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” from May 2015. Citizens are encouraged to plant pollinator-friendly flowers, use safe pest management practices and then register their garden at this national site.

http://www.monarchwatch.org/ – From the University of Kansas provides information on how to protect Monarch butterflies. They also sell (and give away to non-profits) milkweed plants that grow in your area.

http://pollinator.org/ - Pollinator Partnership hosts National Pollinator Week in June and has planting guides which are specific to your zip code. The planting guides provide lots of information on pollinators and the types of plants for your area. Great education ideas.

http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/ - has regional checklists for each county in Missouri that are linked to photos of the adults and caterpillars of moths and butterflies found there. They also will try to identify your unknown moth or caterpillar, if you send them a photo, after you create a free account. Very cool website with lots of beautiful photos!

http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/index.shtml - US Forest Service: Celebrating Wildflowers. This site has a lot of information about plant-pollinator interactions and gardening for pollinators.

http://www.gardenswithwings.com - has ways to identify butterflies and caterpillars, nectar and host plants for each butterfly with information on plant ranges and traits, and gardening tips for butterflies. Very helpful!

http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife.aspx - National Wildlife Federation has a program to certify your backyard as a Wildlife Habitat. There is lots of helpful information on gardening for wildlife.

http://www.xerces.org/ - The Xerces Society works for the conservation of all invertebrates. Under the Program tab, you’ll find information for “Pollinator Conservation” and “Butterfly Conservation.” Both include information on plant choices for your region, about the pollinators, and ways to get involved in protecting pollinators. Very information and empowering site.

http://www.blankparkzoo.com/en/conservation/plant_grow_fly/ - Blank Park Zoo through Plant.Grow.Fly. has a conservation initiative to help protect our native pollinators. You will find easy, region-specific garden recipes to help you plant the flowers and grasses that native butterflies and bees need the most. Once you plant or if you already have your garden, you can easily register it with Plant.Grow.Fly.

TED Presentations:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_drori_the_beautiful_tricks_of_flowers.html – This 13 minute presentation is illustrated with beautiful flowers and discusses how animals are persuaded to pollinate them.

http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_the_hidden_beauty_of_pollination.html - This 7 minute presentation is about pollination with beautiful time-lapse photography. Towards the end are some beautiful images of bat pollination and monarch butterflies in Mexico. Footage is from “Wings of Life,” a Disneynature Film.

https://www.ted.com/talks/marla_spivak_why_bees_are_disappearing – This 16 minute presentation describes the problems honey bees (and native bees) face and provides some suggestions for their survival.

Books of Interest:

Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, E. Mader, M. Shepherd, M. Vaughan, S. Hoffman Black and G. LeBuhn, 2011. Storey Publishing, produced by the Xerces Society. This book describes how pollination works, why we should care about it, threats to pollinators, who are the invertebrate pollinators, and how to protect these pollinators. Includes information on the native bees of the US and how to create a pollinator-friendly landscape with an annotated list of butterfly host plants. There is a lot of excellent information here that is clearly presented. Highly recommended reading.

Bringing Nature Home: how you can sustain wildlife with native plants, Douglas Tallamy, 2007. Timber Press. With lots of photos, this book provides the reasons for gardening with native plants. For example, since insects prefer plants that they have co-evolved with (that is, native plants), there will be a lot more insects if native plants are present. With more insects, there will be more birds, since most birds feed insects to their young and may eat insects themselves. There is a list of the host species for many butterflies and some moths and lists of native plants based on locations in the US. Highly recommended reading.

Butterflies and Moths of Missouri, J. Richard and Joan E. Heitzman, 1987. Missouri Department of Conservation. Has photos and descriptions of all Missouri butterflies and moths and includes some caterpillars.

Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History, David L. Wagner, 2005. Princeton University Press. Presents photos of nearly 700 butterflies and moths, showing the caterpillar and some of their adult forms. Also describes the host plant for some caterpillars.

The Life Cycles of Butterflies, J. Burris and W. Richards, 2006. Has 23 common butterflies with many beautiful photos of each of their life stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult. Also has information on host plants.

Photographic Field Guide to the Butterflies in the Kansas City Region, Betsy Betros, 2008. Kansas City Star Books. Many of the butterflies are shown with their caterpillar and pupa stages. This book covers most of the butterflies that are present in the Ozarks, too.

Status of Pollinators in North America, National Research Council, 2007, National Academies Press. Describes the factors impacting native and managed pollinators, why we should be concerned about them, and how to improve the situation. The executive summary is available for free pdf download at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11761.html

There are a lot of books and websites that will help you learn more about pollination and how to design a wildlife garden. I’ve just listed a few. Use your local library and Google to find them!

Monarch October 14Sarah Dewey was previously with the Missouri State University Department of Biology. Currently she is a volunteer docent, trainer and speaker on behalf of the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House and Friends of the Garden at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Avenue, Springfield, MO 65807. Phone 417.891.1515 | Website www.friendsofthegarden.org  –Photo by G.B. Deatz

Species Thriving

Native Butterfly Species Thrive In Local Butterfly House
Missouri State University News, July 1, 2013
Video featuring Dr. Chris Barnhart Part 1
With Grant Bolton & Steven Beach Part 2

An egg brings forth a caterpillar, the caterpillar changes into a chrysalis, and from a chrysalis comes a butterfly. These changes in a butterfly reveal so much about the life cycle and are fascinating for the young and old. Dr. Chris Barnhart, professor of biology at Missouri State University, discusses native butterflies and the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House.


New Longer Summer Hours:

Saturday & Sunday: 10 am- 6 pm
Weekdays: 10 am - Dusk
Free Tram Saturday & Sunday: 1 pm - 4:30 pm
Open May - September


Want to spend some time enjoying the butterflies in our Butterfly House, while teaching others about these important animals? It’s easy to become a Butterfly House Volunteer Docent, Butterfly Collector or to get involved with Friends of the Garden. For group tours call 417.891-1515. To become a Butterfly House docent contact Lisa Bakerink at butterflies@friendsofthegarden.org.

The Dr. Bill Roston Butterfly House is maintained completely by volunteers. We’re funded only by your private donations. Your investment will help us expand our service to the community.

Mail donations payable to:
Friends of the Garden
PO Box 8566 | Springfield, MO 65801

We’re individuals & families who support the Botanical Center & Gardens in its mission to provide outstanding botanical, horticultural and environmental education opportunities for people of all ages. Anyone with an interest or appreciation in nature who wish to support the progress of the gardens is encouraged to join this non-profit organization Friends of the Garden. As a member, you’re a partner in the future of the these gardens.

Become a Friend of the Garden

icon How to Make a Butterfly Garden (1.3 MB)

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  • Springfield, MO 65801

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