Monarchs and Painted Ladies
Bliss for a Butterfly Guy
By Les Tanner
Photos by Susannah Newsome
It was 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 3, 2019, when I bid goodbye to Jimmy the cat, promising to be back by dark (I’m not sure he believed me), and set out for Pingree, a good five-hour drive from Caldwell. Pingree is a small agricultural community on Idaho’s Highway 39, in the eastern part of the state some twenty miles north of Aberdeen, the town where my wife, Ruby, had lived before we got married. There’s not much in that part of Idaho but wheat and corn and sugar beets. And a place I had read about where live butterflies are on public display. I’d been a butterfly guy since my kidhood and thought it would be worth a look.
It was close to noon when I found the sign I was looking for, where Willow Road crosses U.S. Highway 26, about fifteen miles west of Blackfoot. It was an official blue sign of the sort the Idaho Highway Department uses to indicate services and attractions. It directed me to “The Butterfly Haven,” eleven miles to the south.
I followed Willow Road to where it crosses Pingree’s Second Street South, and then drove west the quarter-mile or so to where cars were parked along the road. As I pulled into the single empty space in a small graveled parking lot, I saw an old tractor headed west, pulling a trailer that carried two kids and a couple of adults. A sign festooned with butterflies and the name of the place was on one of four greenhouses that stood side-by-side. A small wooden building adjacent to the greenhouse was the obvious entryway. Inside I found a reception desk and a dozen or so folks, some chatting, some looking at displays of magazines and butterfly-related items along one wall, and a couple of kids messing around with a gumball machine near the door.