The Charlie Miller Butterfly Habitat is open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend sunrise to sunset. The Habitat is donor-supported, so it is free to our community and visitors. We hope the Habitat is a gateway to nature that encourages everyone to learn about this wonderful pollinator insect and perhaps even find a way to support them, like by planting their own butterfly garden. If you’d like to help support this year’s Habitat, you can donate below. All donors will receive four tickets to one of our Donor/Member Butterfly releases.
Linda King is our amazing Butterfly Habitat Curator. After spending two years as a volunteer naturalist for the Chattanooga Audubon Society she relocated to Ohio to further her education. She has an associate’s degree in Natural and Historical Interpretation from Hocking College in Nelsonville, OH where she graduated with honors. She completed an internship as an Educator at Butterfly Ridge in Rockbridge, OH. After college, she moved back home to middle Tennessee and started here at Lost River Cave in 2019. Every year Linda tends to the garden, finding native plants that support all of the different native butterflies we have in the Habitat. Her long-term goal is to have a self-sustaining ecosystem. The fruits of her work have been seen in the habitat for the past couple of years; during the butterfly season, you’ll see eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis, and adult butterflies, all signs of happy butterflies and a happy ecosystem.
Dawn To Dusk
The Habitat is open any time that the sun is up! The best time of day to see butterflies moving about, however, is during the warmer hours from about 10 am to 3 pm.
- Dawn To Dusk: The Habitat is open any time that the sun is up! The best time of day to see butterflies moving about, however, is during the warmer hours from about 10 am to 3 pm.
- Open only one set of the Habitat’s doors at a time. The Habitat entry is designed to keep butterflies in, but we need your help doing that. Make sure to open one set of doors, let your party get completely into the foyer, and then close the doors before you open the next set. This helps keep our butterflies safely in the Habitat, which is good for a couple of reasons. It helps keep butterflies in the Habitat for our community to enjoy, it makes sure they don’t enter the outside ecosystem and possibly upset the balance, and it helps us keep predators from running in through open doors. Thanks for helping out!
- Watch your step! Butterflies like to bask in the sun on the pebble floor of the Habitat. Make sure you watch where you’re walking when in the Habitat, so you can avoid stepping on our little friends.
- Try your best not to touch the butterflies, especially on their wings. Butterflies are somewhat delicate and their wings are made up of thousands of tiny scales. If we touch their wings, those scales can easily come off. This can affect their camouflage and potentially shorten their life. Feel free to let the butterflies land on you, though, and enjoy a close-up look at an amazing pollinator!
- Avoid the plant beds and picking flowers. Host and nectar plants are very important to butterflies. Host plants provide places for the butterflies to lay eggs and a source of food for future caterpillars to eat. Flowering plants provide nectar for adult butterflies. If we lose plants or bloom, our butterflies wouldn’t have sustenance.
- Have fun and check out our interpretive signage! Learn about the butterflies in the Habitat by taking a look at the posted signs. You can learn a bit about the butterflies and even some tips for starting your own butterfly garden to support amazing pollinators!
What should I wear into the habitat?
Since the Habitat is open in the summer, it will be hot. Make sure to wear cool clothing, sunscreen, and perhaps a hat. If you want butterflies to land on you, try wearing bright colors that you’d see on a flower.
Can I touch the butterflies?
We ask that visitors do not touch the butterflies, especially on their wings. Butterflies have tiny scales that can be damaged and affect their lifespan. If a butterfly lands on you, that’s perfectly fine! Enjoy a close-up look at a very cool and important pollinator!
If you’d like to take part in one of our Donor/Member butterfly releases, you can make a donation below to receive 4 passes to a release!
History & Impact
The Butterfly Habitat
In 1997, the Bowling Green JCI Senators built The Butterfly Habitat and dedicated it in memory of one of their own, Charlie Miller. It’s because of them that this wonder-filled garden exists. Since then, the Charlie Miller Butterfly Habitat has been enjoyed by thousands of guests.
The #FindYourWings Butterfly Mural
In 2018, local artists Hadleigh Chapman and Novelty V. Habit donated their time and talent to create an amazing mural on the side of the Gift Shop to raise awareness of the need for the ongoing support of the Butterfly Habitat.
Come spread your wings and tag #lostrivercave as you take flight for an awesome cause!
Over the years the Charlie Miller Butterfly Habitat has been enjoyed by thousands of guests. The Habitat is a beautiful garden filled with wonderful little fluttering inhabitants for everyone to enjoy, but it’s much more than that. Every experience in the Habitat is one that serves the mission to educate and enrich lives through connections with nature.
We hope guests will enjoy learning about the native plants that butterflies need to thrive, their natural predators, and their lifecycle. We like to think of the habitat as a loosely structured introduction to a ‘gateway bug,’ the butterfly. Butterflies are beautiful, gentle, and generally aren’t feared; those characteristics serve in helping visitors begin or continue their journey into learning the value of insects to nature and to us!
The Butterfly Habitat is provided by generous donors who believe it is an experience that should be available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. We are so grateful to the many people who contribute to this special project including these sponsor-level supporters that give $500 or above. An extra special thank you goes to Bob Heidbrink, our Butterfly Habitat presenting donor, who gives in memory of Helen, Marsha, and Ann, and for Diane and all to enjoy!
Linda & Rick Mitchell
Cara, John, & Cedar Benningfield
The Montessori School of Bowling Green
All Things Butterfly
What a transformation!
Butterflies change a lot over the span of their life, from egg to butterfly. Get ready to learn a few interesting facts about this process soon!
Thank you for supporting the Charlie Miller Butterfly Habitat! After you donate, you’ll receive an invite with your link to book 4 tickets to a donor/member butterfly release.
If you choose to make an ongoing donation or make a one-time gift of $40 or more, you’ll get our special 4-inch #SpreadYourWings Butterfly Mural Sticker shown below!
Artwork and mural by local artists Hadleigh Evans and Novelty V. Habit