Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House

Free educational attraction in the Springfield Botanical Gardens
Opening at 10:00 AM
Header image for the site


The Southern Dogface butterfly has a much more flattering Latin name- Zerene. They are late summer transients in our area, and seem fairly abundant this summer. The females are suffused with pink and lovely to see. Plant indigo bush and prairie clover to encourage these.

You might have heard on the news that there was a break-in Friday night at the Butterfly House. We’ve repaired the damage and all is well. Our heartfelt thanks to all our friends who chipped in to help! Love you all. Chris & Deb.

100 Luna spun their cocoons this week. These will hatch in September, and be the parents of our last brood in October. The colors are from tissue paper we supplied as ‘gift wrap’ 😊

Cherie and Hannah raised a beautiful set of Red-spotted Purple and brought us the chrysalides today. There are larvae on the Black Willow too, so we anticipate a number of these flying in the next couple of weeks.

The pipevine swallowtail is a shimmering blue beauty. The larva feeds on toxic birthworts and is thought to be the primary model for other butterflies that resemble it for protection from birds. Interesting that these butterflies roost close together at night, shunning all the copycats.

Lots of spicebush swallowtail emerging this week. These butterflies are members of a mimicry complex along with pipevine, black, female tiger swallowtail and red-spotted purple. At least some of them are distasteful to birds and all are thought to benefit from their resemblances.

The caterpillars of spicebush swallowtail are utterly charming and we willingly accept their faux eyes at face value ;)

This week we have a big hatch of Questionmark, which are named for the silver mark on their hindwing (or perhaps the quizzical pose of the caterpillars). They've been tearing up the elm for weeks, and now we'll have some fun, because they are salt-hungry and really like to perch on sweaty visitors!


a month ago
Best butterfly house I've visited because the volunteers are right there to answer questions and point out where caterpillars, eggs and chrysalis are "hiding" and you see the whole life cycle even mating butterflies.
- Lisa R
a year ago
They were super friendly hosts and gave us a lot of information about the butterflies and showed us cocoons and explained everything. Such a great learning experience even if it is small. There were so many butterflies several different kinds and all maturities. They will land on you and "lick" you. So cute.
- Bethany P
2 years ago
It's not just for kids! This place is always fantastic. We stopped in on Saturday, July 21st, and the ladies that were there were very knowledgeable about all the moths, butterflies, and caterpillars inside. I learn something every time I visit. It is free, but they have donation boxes set up. It's a neat place to see, but be quick when you open and close the door so the butterflies don't get out!
- Hannah M

Showcasing the beauty of butterflies

The Roston Butterfly House, honoring Dr. Bill Roston, is a seasonal, outdoor, living display of native butterflies, moths, and plants, free of charge to the public. We run solely on volunteerism and donations and receive no funding from the Parks department. Volunteers staff the Butterfly House in the evenings and on weekends.  We strive to attract families, homeschools, photographers, and many others.

The Butterfly House showcases the unique nature of the Ozarks. Barely separated from the gardens by a net house, visitors see the entire life cycle of swallowtails, fritillaries, monarchs, luna moths, and many others. The community of plants and insects changes from day to day, as flowers bloom and butterfly lives unfold. Docents point out highlights and answer questions. We also raise hundreds of native butterflies and moths for display and to donate to local schools.  

The mission of Butterfly House is to show the interdependence of native plants, insects, and us. Each kind of plant is pollinated by bees and butterflies, allowing it to reproduce and bear fruits and seeds. Each kind of native butterfly and moth feeds on particular native plants. The butterflies and caterpillars in turn are food for birds and other animals. The abundance of each species regulates the abundance of the others, resulting in a stable and diverse community. 

The importance of native plants and pollinators is increasingly recognized and is critical to sustaining wildlife in urban and suburban settings. Everyone loves the beauty of butterflies. They can be appreciated by people of all ages and all perspectives. Butterflies lend themselves to lessons in ecology and sustainability. The Butterfly House is also a spiritual refuge for many visitors, because butterflies are symbols of hope, renewal, and resurrection.  

Springfield has a strong appeal for people that value nature, and the Butterfly House contributes another facet to this attraction. Showcasing the native species of the Ozarks helps people recognize that our area is special, and contributes to our sense of community. Thanks to our volunteer docents,  we record 30-40 thousand visitors per season (mid-May to mid-October).  Please consider joining us as a volunteer or as a donor.

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  • (417) 891-1515


Get directions
2400 South Scenic Avenue
Springfield, MO 65807
United States

Business Hours

Mon:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tue:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Wed:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Thu:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Fri:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sat:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sun:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
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