Fittingly, the outdoor gardens at Westminster’s Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center are designed to appeal to insects as much as to human visitors.
A 1/2-mile nature trail winds along Big Dry Creek past caterpillars chomping on dill and milkweed plants, bees and butterflies sucking nectar from colorful flowers, the cocoons of moths sheltering in ground cover and shrubs while the magic of transformation goes on unseen.
Two other gardens offer gazebos for resting and watching the activity buzzing among the 300 varieties of native plants.
Butterfly Pavilion staff and volunteers have invested seven years in repairing trails on the 4.8-acre site, restoring native plants and removing invasive imports.
They are also restoring shortgrass prairie and riparian habitat on the pavilion site, providing a nesting spot for water fowl and adding a link for prairie wildlife passing through.
Visitors craving a dose of humidity and the exotic in Colorado’s aridity will find it in the tropical garden inside the pavilion, where an estimated 1,600 butterflies reside.