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Botanical Conservatory Butterflies

O’Neil’s Glass , a local Fort Wayne Company helps keep the butterflies safe at the Botanical Conservatory with a unique solution. The challenge was to come up with a solution to an ongoing problem they were having with their butterfly chrysalis-housing box.

When Tom Hegge from the Ft Wayne Parks Department and the Botanical Conservatory asked O’Neil’s Glass for their help, O’Neil’s came up with an answer to their problem. The old doors were made from a polycarbonate plastic, which did not seal the enclosure tightly and is imperative to the safety of the Chrysalis and butterflies as they emerge and are then released into the butterfly room for the annual display.

The box must be nearly air tight to prevent any insects or rodents from entering and also prevent escape by any emerging butterflies. This working enclosure has eight doors, which are opened and closed regularly by the trained technicians who care for the butterflies. At the end of the season the enclosure is cleaned out and prior to occupancy in the spring it is completely cleaned and sterilized. The doors needed to be easy use, latch tightly and securely and be able to be locked to prevent access by the public. Lastly, it needed to be done on time and under an allowed budget.

Scott Lahr and Terry Keenan, O’Neil’s Project Managers, came up with a solution that would meet all their criteria. Drawing on their experience with glazing and installing steam shower enclosures they replaced the polycarbonate that was warped and flimsy with tempered glass. They used a shower door with continuous hinges, large spongy weather-stripping around the perimeter, strong magnetic latches and a locking hasp that was bonded to the glass.

The feel and sealing qualities of the doors were obvious as soon as the first prototype was installed. The staff inspected this first set and all agreed it was a vast improvement over the existing doors and the go ahead was given for the remaining three openings. The project was completed in March and the butterflies will be safe to emerge this spring for everyone’s enjoyment.

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