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Butterflies are free to fly

An annual show at Carleton University.

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | NOV 08 2010

The butterflies fluttered by, to the delight of children, amateur photographers and thousands of others visiting the annual butterfly show at Carleton. For 10 days at the beginning of October, the university transformed its greenhouses into a butterfly conservatory.

Ed Bruggink, the greenhouse manager, says hundreds of exotic butterflies were on display at any given time during the show. “There was lots to feast your eyes on,” he says.

Mr. Bruggink is the founder of the show, now in its 11th year. “My wife and I went to the botanical gardens [in Montreal] to look at a butterfly show there in 1998, and we thought, ‘Hey, we could do the same at Carleton.’”

The butterflies, collected from butterfly farms around the world, are couriered to campus from London, England. They arrive as pupae, or chrysalises. Mr. Bruggink and student volunteers suspend them on sticks until they emerge after one to five days, after which they’re transferred to the greenhouses.

Roughly 10,000 people passed through over the 10 days, including 1,200 schoolchildren. Guided tours were provided by students from Carleton and cross-town University of Ottawa as part of the Let’s Talk Science outreach program.

Admission was free, but donations were kindly accepted. While the money collected has generally covered the cost of the show in the past, this year the dean of science said the department would pick up the tab for the purchase of the short-lived butterflies.

Mr. Bruggink calls the show, “a gift to the community from the biology department, to educate people about exotic tropical Lepidoptera.”

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