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We Live It, You’ll Love It: Take Flight with ECHO’s Butterflies, Live!

I spy a butterfly

Tropical Butterflies Rent Lakefront Property at ECHO

ECHO, Butterflies

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain welcomes Butterflies, Live! from the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA.

Butterflies don’t swim. But you can swim the butterfly–at least in theory. The butterfly stroke is not for the athletically disinclined. Only true masters attempt to swim 124 miles of Lake Champlain waters.  So where can swimming amateurs and connoisseurs both experience Lake Champlain from a winged perspective? ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain’s Butterflies, Live! 

Over the past few months, Vermonters and visitors have been able to experience the tropics and its colorful, winged ecology on even the gloomiest of days. From bitter winter mornings and stormy summer nights to a bright and lively butterfly ecosystem, ECHO transports patrons to a whole other continent without ever actually leaving the Green Mountains. The Butterflies, Live! exhibit is a hidden gem. And with it only here until Labor Day weekend, I knew I had to check it out before it  “took flight”.

ECHO, Butterflies

Butterflies, Live! is open 10am-5pm, 7 days a week, until Labor Day

Two Hundred Butterflies and One Dumbfounded Chamber Staff Member

In preparation for the pavilion installation, 200 butterflies were shipped to ECHO. At any given time, 15 to 20 species are present amongst the exhibit’s lush greenery. From Mexico to Malaysia, these butterflies represent practically every continent.  While that might be hard to conceptualize, once you witness all the unique colors, patterns and weights, the species’ diversity is apparent.


From left to right: Glasswing Butterfly, Common Postman, Ismenius Longwing and Zebra Longwing

Upon entering the pavilion, I recommend grabbing a species guide and a magnifying glass. Each helped me identify many of the creatures I encountered, and made me, even if only for a brief moment, feel like a seasoned expert. (Want to continue reading up on your favorite butterflies? You can download the guide here)


I spy a butterfly. Use the magnifying glass to get a closer look.

However, if you aren’t looking to do a self-guided tour, there are  butterfly experts who can answer any and all questions that you throw their way, including my frequent question of disbelief: “WOAH! Is that real?”

ECHO, butterflies

Cailee Smith, Public Programs Manager, helps guests spot a butterfly

Discover Something New Every Time at Butterflies, Live!

Although my second time hanging out with the butterflies, I was introduced to several new species. One of the many advantages to  revisiting are all the new discoveries–encountering new creatures in an ever-evolving exhibit. Visit twice, or visit every week, no matter when or how often you come, you are likely to learn something new.

From the Glasswing Butterfly to the Piano Key Butterfly, you can marvel in the graceful patterns and inherent uniqueness of these delicate creatures. Watch them flirt their way in search of nectar, nuzzle amongst colorful vegetation, and flutter in groups. If you are lucky, you might even spot the enormous Atlas Moth (yes, it’s real) or have a butterfly land on you. 

atlas moth

The Atlas Moth is the largest moth in the world in terms of wing surface area

A butterfly takes a break on a patron

ECHO’s Butterflies, Live! exhibit is not to be missed. Prepare to be mystified by this noteworthy experience.  Fly don’t walk to this paradise on Lake Champlain.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is a 501(c) non-profit organization. ECHO’s mission is to educate and delight people about the Ecology, Culture, History, and Opportunities for Stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin.