Live hissing cockroaches and scorpions big enough to filet comprise the insect exhibit at the Texas Experience Pavilion at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo this year.   Butterflies are represented by dead mounts and paper cut-outs.

Crowds at Texas Experience Pavilion Butterfly Exhibit at San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

Organizers decided that live butterflies were “too much trouble” and “too expensive” to feature this season, said Greg Myles, a youth educator for Texas Agrilife Extension of Bexar County.  The Extension service oversees the Bexar County Master Gardeners who assemble and staff the educational exhibit as volunteers.  In 201o, the exhibit included live butterflies, chrysalises and caterpillars.

Butterfly Exhibit at San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Texas Pavilion

As disappointing as fake and dead butterflies are compared to live ones, the decision to avoid live butterfly stock this year may have been prescient, given the historic cold.   Live butterflies cannot endure subfreezing temperatures and likely would have perished in the snow and ice storm that befell San Antonio this week, dropping temperatures into the 20s.  The Texas Experience Pavilion is housed in an unheated metal building.

The crowd on Saturday night didn’t seem to mind.  Many gathered to see the lepidoptera display. Beautiful specimens of butterflies and moths–from Monarchs and Swallowtails to Polyphemus and Luna moths–were perfectly pinned, touting their fully opened wings and bright colors.

The exhibit is free with rodeo admission and continues daily through February 20.