ECHO Center showcases butterfly world

Dozens of butterflies flew around a tent brimming with lush green plants and swarming with children fascinated by the colorful creatures.

The Butterflies, Live! exhibit at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain showcases a variety of butterfly species all sent in from a farm just outside of Boston, according to an exhibit volunteer.

Emily, an Echo volunteer, stands guard at one end of the tent to ensure that as people exit, a butterfly hasn’t tagged along for the ride on someone’s shirt.

Nestled among the plants are informational posters about butterflies, describing how their wings allow them to fly, where they go on their annual flights and how they eat.

Many posters are dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers the insects face.

“Human destruction of butterfly habitats, uses of pesticides and our dependency on climate-altering fossil fuels have lead to the decline or even extinction of butterfly species,” one poster stated.

A world without butterflies would directly impact plants, animals and humans, according to animal rights activist Lauren Kearney.

Kearney wrote in a 2015 article for One Green Planet of the importance these insects have in the environment.

“Butterflies play a number of roles in the ecosystem,” Kearney said. “They act as a pollinator and as a food source for other species, acting as an important connector in a thriving ecosystem web.”

Phelan Fretz, executive director of ECHO, also shed light on the issue.

“As the world’s habitats are increasingly threatened with human impacts,” he said, “it is important that we all have the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary diversity of the planet’s wildlife.”

Senior Erin Macy attended the exhibit and reflected on the magnificence of the butterflies.

“I thought it was a beautiful display of diverse butterflies,” Macy said. “The greenhouse was a great way to learn about these beautiful bugs.”

The exhibit opened Feb. 11 and runs until Sept. 4.