The transport and display of exotic insects is closely regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), so that caterpillars - and the tiny insect pests that ride with them - do not escape and do damage to the area's agricultural environment. The actual permitting process took about one month, but it has taken since last January to complete the modifications and upgrades to the new structure at Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke to allow it to pass the inspection. Up until now, the museum has been limited to a few local species of butterflies which are legal to display without permit.
Derek Kellogg, the Museum's Lead Animal Care Specialist and the person primarily responsible for getting the exhibit "inspection-ready," was thrilled. "This is more than just an encouraging development, this is what we have been striving and working towards for months," he said.
Kellogg says it will take about two to three weeks for the permits to translate into actual butterflies in the exhibit. "We have to provide copies of our new permit to all our suppliers, then order the pupae, allow them to emerge from their chrysalis, and then release them into the habitat. It takes a little time," he added.
The Science Museum of Western Virginia charges a regular admission fee to enter the Museum, plus an additional charge to visit the Butterfly Garden. "When the exotics arrive, and you add that to the view of our downtown skyline and the mountains outside the windows of our Butterfly Garden, it's seems well-worth the ticket price," Rollings said.