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Museums, Tourist Attractions

Cockrell Butterfly Center Pictures ~ HMNS in Hermann Park

Posted: March 31, 2016 at 4:37 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

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Looking for Butterflies in Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas has a mild climate where one can see butterflies year round. This is especially true if one has planted vegetation that attracts them. But where does one go to see exotic butterflies galore from all around the world in one place? The Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural History in Hermann Park is the answer. The address is 5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, Texas 77030.

We have taken many family members and friends to that attraction if they were visiting us here in Houston. No matter what the weather is doing outside, inside the Cockrell Butterfly Center it is always the same. Think tropical rainforest and you have the idea.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Museum is located at the northern edge of Hermann Park. Hermann Park has so much to offer including the Houston Zoo, the Japanese Garden, Miller Outdoor Theater, a Rose and Herb Garden and more.

Cockrell Butterfly Center

The Cockrell Butterfly Center was a wonderful addition to the existing Houston Museum of Natural Science.  It opened its doors for the first time in 1994.

It consists of a three story glass enclosure seventy feet in height.  The Cockrell Butterfly Center provides a walk through exhibit space where people can commune with free flying butterflies from all around the world.

My mother inside the Cockrell Butterfly Center

My mother inside the Cockrell Butterfly Center


The humid environment is kept around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  If wearing colorful clothing, do not be surprised if a butterfly suddenly decides to alight upon one. Sometimes other people are the first to notice. After all, a butterfly’s slight weight would hardly alert one as to its presence if not in one’s immediate line of sight.

Children and adults alike always seem thrilled to see these colorful winged insects sit for a spell upon one’s shoulders, arms, hands, hair and other body parts. Seldom does it last long, but many a smile has occurred and if lucky and fast with taking photos, these butterfly landings can sometimes be captured for long time visual remembrances of a visit here.

Attracting Butterflies

Cantelope & other fruits provided inside the dome for the butterflies.

Cantelope & other fruits provided inside the dome for the butterflies.

Once hatched from their chrysalis state the butterflies fly freely throughout the large space.

Feeding stations are placed just off the pathways.  Tourists can easily see the winged insects taking in sustenance.  Bits of fruit or sponges soaked with nutrients are anchored to the ground or even tied and suspended from plant life within the dome.

Indigenous as well as exotic plants which attract butterflies are incorporated into this unique environment. Getting to see beautiful blooming varieties of plants also adds to the enjoyment of visiting the Cockrell Butterfly Center. If one is inspired to attract butterflies to one’s personal garden, this is one place where one can easily see what works with regard to that goal.



Life Stages of a Butterfly

If one would aspire to see each type of butterfly found in the Cockrell Butterfly Center in the butterfly’s natural habitat, one would have to travel the world. Each week about one thousand butterflies are imported from countries around the world in their chrysalis or pupae stage.

There are four stages in the development of a butterfly.

  • Eggs…many are laid upon leaves and plants that eventually provide nourishment to the next stage which is the…
  • Larva…aka, caterpillars…and they DO eat! They can literally strip a plant of leaves (as they have done to some tomato plants in our personal garden in a small amount of time.) But that is their job which provides much needed nourishment to the next stage which is…
  • Pupa…aka chrysalis stage which is the cocoon in which over time the fully developed
  • Adult…butterfly emerges.
Butterflies emerging from their cocoons

Butterflies emerging from their cocoons


The photo above shows the glass enclosed case where the pupae (cocoons) reside until the adult butterfly emerges.

Once a butterfly emerges it takes a while to “harden” its wings and eventually use them for flying. There are exits from this case whereby the adult butterflies gain access to the three story enclosed tropical space which will be their home for the rest of their life cycle.

The museum maintains about 2,000 butterflies in various stages of development at all times. This is to ensure a steady supply of beauteous winged insects colorfully punctuating the rain forest atmosphere at any and all times that people may desire to visit this space.

In addition to a waterfall, people will find an abundance of vegetation consisting of tropical trees, shrubs and flowering plants inside the Cockrell Butterfly Center. These include some of the following…palms, orchids, ferns, bromeliads, ginger and too many others to enumerate.

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Be sure to dress appropriately for this warm and humid environment.  Plan some time to admire the plantings as well as the fluttering of butterflies. Some of the butterflies have wings that are almost transparent.

Benches are worked in to the landscape so that in addition to moving through the domed center, one can quietly sit and rest and watch the action which is changing from moment to moment.

This is an exhibit where it pays to slow down and take one’s time for the full enjoyment of what is on display. One could easily spend anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours if desired.

The video below shows many of the blooming plants inside the Cockrell Butterfly Center.

Click here to find out the address, hours of operation and prices for the Cockrell Butterfly Center in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Picture of this butterfly taken at the Houston Zoo in Hermann Park

Picture of this butterfly taken at the Houston Zoo in Hermann Park

Exiting the live butterfly area, one passes through a space with mirrors to make sure that one of these winged insects is not trying to hitch a ride to the outside.

One is then introduced to an exhibit of some of the most dazzling colors of mounted beetles from around the world as well as some other insects…some of which are alive. The iridescence of those polychromatic beetles is absolutely amazing. You will have entered the Brown Hall of Entomology at this point of your visit to the museum. Learning about the insect world and how we humans benefit from their existence is a side benefit from going to enjoy the butterfly center.

Obviously there is much more to the Houston Museum of Natural Science building than just the Cockrell Butterfly Center. If one has more time to spend exploring the four floors of different areas including everything from dinosaurs to gems or want to take in a Planetarium show or an IMAX show…it is all there to fulfill and amuse one. Some of the world class traveling exhibits that pass through those doors are stellar!

The video below shows more of the butterflies in the Cockrell Butterfly Center and some of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Hope that you enjoyed this look at the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural History in Houston, Texas. You will surely see butterflies galore!



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