John White Butterfly Center

Spread Your Wings and Fly

“Join us as we strive to protect and educate visitors and guests about the beautiful butterfly and their connection and struggle in our changing world.”

Europeans first saw images of the new world and all its natural wonders through the artful eye of John White, a brave traveler from England.

Well before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, John White came to Roanoke Island during an exciting time of exploration led by Sir Walter Raleigh with support from England’s ruling monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

When he returned from his explorations, White brought back images he sketched of plants, insects (butterflies, too) and native inhabitants of pre-colonial North Carolina. We saw the first butterfly of the new world through John White’s watercolors!

Our gardens were created to memorialize John White and the other Roanoke colonists. The aim of our John White Butterfly Center is to protect these beautiful creatures through education and research. We hope you will join us as we continue John White’s quest of enlightenment by learning about butterflies.

Annual Butterfly Migration

Every Fall, North American monarchs – East of the Rocky Mountains – travel up to 3,000 miles to central Mexico. Visit our Butterfly Center to gain ideas for planning your own butterfly garden and return to the Gardens in the spring or summer to participate in one of our weekly butterfly releases!
April-September Butterfly Releases


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