We had beautiful weather today in D.C., so I packed up the Lil’ Man and we headed over to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to see the butterflies. (I just couldn’t let this beautiful weather go to waste by spending it in the house.) Admission to the museum is free, but the Butterfly Pavilion is a ticketed event. If you’re in D.C. on a Tuesday, then I recommend swinging by the museum to take advantage of their free tickets to see the butterflies. While there is no charge to enter the Butterfly Pavilion on Tuesdays, the tickets are timed. Be prepared to wait a bit before being allowed entry. We arrived at the ticket counter (located on the second floor of the museum) around 11:20 am and were given an entry time of 11:45 am. The museum asks that you return 5 minutes prior to your allotted time.
Lil’ Man and I perused some of the nearby exhibits during our wait. At 11:30 am the museum holds an insect feeding in the Insect Zoo exhibit. If you get a bit queasy around large bugs or suffer from a bit of arachnophobia, you may want to stay clear of this area. Right as we were about to meet Cosette the Chilean Rose-Haired Tarantula, it was time for us to return to the butterfly exhibit.
Stroller parking is available just outside the exhibit (last thing you would want to do is run over one of the inhabitants). It is important to follow the museum’s rules while visiting with the butterflies. Prior to entering, a museum volunteer will review the rules with your group. The most important, and one I have seen broken both times I’ve been in the pavilion, is don’t touch the butterflies. Today I heard a parent frantically repeating to her child, “don’t touch!” We later saw a butterfly with a damaged wing walking on the ledge of the flower bed. 😦 Fortunately, Lil’ Man has been very respectful of this rule and I have not had to get after him. In fact, a Monarch landed on his bright yellow Pikachu sweatshirt and he freaked out. A volunteer and I had to assure him that the butterfly could not harm him. Yes, the butterflies are allowed to land on you. I don’t think you could stop them if you wanted to. A museum volunteer will help you exit the pavilion at the end and have you check for butterflies in a large mirror before departing through the final door. Below are just a few of the butterflies we encountered today.
If you are sensitive to warm, humid environments, you may want to observe the butterflies from outside the pavilion. The first time we went in the exhibit, I was dressed in a heavy sweatshirt and was absolutely miserable. With today’s mild weather, I was dressed in lighter clothing and faired much better.
If you have an inquisitive little one, there are volunteers in the pavilion to help answer any questions they might have. Last time, Lil’ Man asked about the butterfly’s straw-like tongue and learned that it is called a proboscis. Today a volunteer brought in Tomato Hornworms. Despite being terrified of the Monarch, Lil’ Man was brave enough to hold this giant insect.
Our trip to the museum would not be complete without getting a souvenir penny. I love these machines. My son is perfectly happy with a pressed penny and could care less about the overpriced items in the gift shop. That makes me one happy mom! (Note: the pennies at the Smithsonian cost $1 instead of 50 cents.)
We also can’t get out of D.C. without letting Lil’ Man have some Pokémon Go time. There are tons of PokéStops here and we can usually find a Pokémon we haven’t caught yet. I also couldn’t resist the opportunity to catch my own Pikachu while out on the Mall. 😉