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The Best Places To See Beautiful Butterflies In Ohio

Ohio is a butterfly lover’s paradise, with nearly 150 species of butterflies fluttering about and over 3,000 species of moths to marvel at. If you’re planning to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures, timing is everything.

Mid to late summer is the prime time to see butterflies in the wild across Ohio, though some spots might offer butterfly sightings earlier in the season. Here’s a friendly guide to the best places in Ohio to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of butterflies.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

beautiful butterfly on flower
Franklin Park Conservatory is a must-visit for butterfly enthusiasts. Their Blooms & Butterflies exhibit, typically open from March to September, showcases hundreds of butterflies from around the world. Walking through the lush gardens, you’ll see butterflies flitting among the vibrant flowers and plants, making it a magical experience for visitors of all ages.
More info: Franklin Park Conservatory ‘Blooms and Butterflies’

Butterfly House

glass wing butterfly wheeler farms
via Facebook

In Whitehouse, Ohio, just outside Toledo, the Butterfly House offers a serene environment to observe butterflies. From May to October, this tropical greenhouse is home to hundreds of butterflies, providing a perfect escape into nature. The staff is knowledgeable and passionate about butterflies, making it a great spot for both learning and enjoying the beauty of these delicate creatures.
More info: The Butterfly House

Butterfly House at Perry’s Cave

butterfly house at put in bay
via Facebook

If you’re heading to the Lake Erie Islands, don’t miss the Butterfly House at Perry’s Cave in Put-In-Bay. This 4,000 square foot aviary is filled with a diverse array of butterflies, creating a colorful spectacle. Open from May through September, it’s a delightful stop on your island adventure, offering a peaceful retreat where you can watch butterflies in a meticulously maintained environment.
More info: Butterfly House at Perry’s Cave

Krohn Conservatory

krohn conservatory butterflies in space
via Facebook

Cincinnati’s Krohn Conservatory is presenting an out-of-this-world exhibit this year—Butterflies in Space, from May 11 to August 18, 2024. Step into a cosmic wonderland where blossoming plants and fluttering butterflies create a mesmerizing, galactic landscape. Inspired by the butterflies that adapted to zero-gravity aboard the International Space Station in 2009, this exhibit reimagines a space station environment. As you explore, you’ll find yourself surrounded by butterflies drifting like colorful stardust, offering an experience that’s both enchanting and educational.
More info: Krohn Conservatory

Hocking Hills Butterfly Trail

hocking hills butterfly trail
via Facebook

For those who love a bit of adventure, the Hocking Hills Butterfly Trail is a scenic outdoor option. This trail weaves through the stunning landscapes of Hocking Hills State Park, where you can see butterflies in their natural habitats. The trail is best explored in mid to late summer when butterfly activity is at its peak.
More info: Hocking Hills Butterfly Trail

Shawnee State Park

butterfly at shawnee state park
via Facebook

Shawnee State Park, located in southern Ohio, is a hotspot for butterflies, especially from late May through June. The park’s diverse habitats, including forests, meadows, and wetlands, attract a wide variety of butterfly species. It’s an excellent destination for nature lovers looking to enjoy both butterfly watching and the park’s beautiful scenery.
More info: Shawnee State Park

Butterfly Ridge Butterfly Conservation Center

Butterfly Ridge conservation center Hocking Hills
via Facebook

Nestled in Rockbridge, Ohio, Butterfly Ridge Butterfly Conservation Center is dedicated to conserving native butterfly species. This center offers educational programs and guided tours, making it a fantastic place to learn about butterfly conservation efforts. The center’s gardens are designed to attract and support local butterfly populations, providing a haven for these stunning insects.
More info: Butterfly Ridge Butterfly Conservation Center

In Your Own Backyard

You don’t have to travel far to enjoy the beauty of butterflies—your own backyard can become a butterfly haven with the right plants. Ohio’s native plants not only attract butterflies but also support their lifecycle, providing essential nectar sources and host plants for caterpillars. Here’s how you can create a butterfly-friendly garden right at home.

Choose the Right Plants

Poke Milkweed
Poke Milkweed. Photo via Shawnee State Park Facebook

To attract butterflies, it’s important to include a mix of nectar plants for adult butterflies and host plants for their larvae. Here are some native Ohio plants that butterflies love:

Milkweed (Asclepias spp.): A must-have for any butterfly garden, milkweed is the sole host plant for monarch caterpillars. Its flowers also provide nectar for a variety of butterfly species. There are 13 species of milkweed native to Ohio.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): These vibrant flowers are a favorite among butterflies. They provide ample nectar and are also easy to grow.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): Another butterfly magnet, black-eyed Susans bloom from early summer to fall, offering a long-lasting nectar source.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): This bright orange flower not only attracts butterflies with its nectar but also serves as a host plant for monarch caterpillars.

Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum): Known for its tall stature and clusters of pink flowers, Joe-Pye Weed is a late-summer bloomer that provides nectar when other plants are winding down.

Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.): Asters bloom in late summer and fall, providing crucial nectar sources as butterflies prepare for migration.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): Also known as bee balm, this plant has fragrant flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

Creating a Butterfly Habitat

butterfly ridge conservation center
via Facebook

In addition to planting the right flowers, there are a few other elements you can add to make your garden even more attractive to butterflies:

Provide Water Sources: Butterflies need water, but they prefer shallow sources. A simple way to provide this is by placing a shallow dish with sand and water in your garden.

Include Sunlit Areas: Butterflies are cold-blooded and need the sun to warm up. Ensure your garden has sunny spots where butterflies can bask.

Avoid Pesticides: Chemical pesticides can harm butterflies and their larvae. Opt for natural pest control methods to keep your garden safe for all pollinators.

Plant in Groups: Butterflies are more likely to visit gardens where their favorite plants are clustered together, creating a more noticeable target.

By incorporating these plants and practices, you can transform your backyard into a butterfly sanctuary. Not only will you enjoy the colorful display of butterflies flitting from flower to flower, but you’ll also contribute to the conservation of these beautiful and vital pollinators.

Ohio’s diverse landscapes and dedicated butterfly habitats offer countless opportunities to experience the beauty and wonder of butterflies.

Whether you’re visiting a conservatory, hiking through natural trails, or chilling in your own yard, there’s a magical butterfly encounter waiting for you. So, grab your camera, bring along some curiosity, and set out to discover the best places to see butterflies in Ohio. Happy butterfly watching!