Where: Second floor of the National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Open: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily; last entrance at 5:15 p.m.
Admission: The museum is free; the butterfly habitat is $6 for adults, $5 for children 2 to 12; $5.50 seniors 60 and older. No charge on Tuesdays.
Info: (202) 633-1000
Tips: Admittance is restricted to 35 people at a time; it is recommended that you reserve your admission online by day and time in advance: www.butterflies.si.edu/tickets/index.htm. Through its first months of operation, the habitat's busiest days have been Tuesdays (free admission) and Saturdays; the least busy day is Wednesday.
Other habitats, other places
In the 1970s, the first "butterfly house" opened on Guernsey, one of Britain's Channel Islands. This radical concept of artificially replicating the climate of the tropics created a cottage industry in butterfly habitats that has spread worldwide. If you are traveling, check out www.butterflywebsite.com for a country- by-country breakdown of sites to visit. Among the notable spots:
The small Central American nation is estimated to have more butterflies than all of the U.S. and 10% of all known butterfly species in the world. Butterfly habitats include:
La Selva Biological station: A private reserve with 31 miles of boardwalk crisscrossing lowland and rain forest; more than 500 species of butterfly range free; www.ots.ac.cr
The Butterfly Farm, La Guacima: A supplier to international zoos, its netted outdoor habitat has 60 native butterfly species; www.butterflyfarm.co.cr
Butterfly World, Coconut Creek, Fla.: This large, private butterfly showcase features more than 80 species in an outdoor and indoor setting; www.butterflyworld.com
Monarch Beach, Central California: The late October to early March gathering site for millions of Monarch butterflies that swarm from Canada, the western United States and Mexico; www.pacificgrove.org/dirpages/butterflywatching.htm
The Monarch Program Vivarium, Encinitas: A 1,200-foot netted and plastic structure that focuses on native California butterflies. Open to the public on Saturdays by appointment; www.monarchprogram.org