How long does a butterfly live? 

Approximately 10 to 14 days, (similar to a flower).   A few species can live up to 2 months.  Monarchs live longer during migration months.  A moth’s lifespan is about 4 to 5 days.

How many butterflies do we have in the conservatory? 

We have between 1,000 and 1,500 butterflies, depending on the time of year.  With between 50 and 60 different species.

How warm is it in the conservatory? 

We have 24-hour computer controlled weather system uniquely designed to keep the temperature around 85 degrees F. with a relative humidity of 80%.  Butterflies are solar powered and true “sun worshippers”.  They are cold-blooded, which means they are the same temperature as the air around them.

Where are the eggs/caterpillars?  Do they breed in here?

We do not breed the butterflies in the Conservatory.  Butterfly farms around the world do the breeding, and then ship us the chrysalis. However, you may see some coupling or mating.  But that is as far as it goes.  We purposely do not have the host plant that the female requires to lay her eggs on, so therefore, there is no laying of eggs, and no caterpillars.

Where do we get the butterflies or chrysalis? 

The farms we receive the chrysalis from are located in about 10 different countries.  They range from areas of North America, Central America, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, Australia, and England.  We receive 1 to 2 shipments weekly.

What is a butterfly?

A butterfly is an insect from the order called Lepidoptera, which means “scaly wings”.

Can they see and hear and taste?

Butterflies are very visual, they have 2 compound eyes which combined have aprox.  6,000 lenses, allowing them to see vibrant ultraviolet colors making some flowering plants look striking and attractive.  Most butterflies are capable of almost 360-degree vision.    Butterflies cannot hear, but do have a keen sense of vibration.   Butterflies have a great sense of taste needed not only for food but also importantly, to find their specific host plant for laying their 100 to 400 eggs!  Commonly, one at a time.  Tasting is done by use of the bottoms of their feet as well as their antennae, which in turn also helps them to smell, feel, and navigate.

What and how do they eat? 

They feed on the nectar of flowers, overripe fruit, some feed on pollen, urine, and manure, and also minerals and salts found on rocks and or soil.  Butterflies eat through their proboscis.  It is their slender “straw-like tongue” located between their eyes that they keep coiled when it’s not in use.  They use this as a kind of “straw” to siphon in their liquid diet.

Do you have moths in the conservatory too? 

Yes, we have the Atlas Moth, which is almost the largest moth found in Southeast Asia.  Hercules is actually the largest, found living in the same area.  Occasionally, throughout the year we will have the Luna Moth as well.

What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

The easiest way to tell the difference is by the antennae.   A moth’s antennae are thick and wide having almost a feathery look.  The butterfly antennae are straight and very narrow, sometimes having a club on the end.   A couple of other differences being that moths are nocturnal and butterflies are diurnal.  And typically, when at rest, a moth leaves its wings open, where a butterfly folds their wings closed together, perpendicular to the body.  Another comparison is the shape of their body and abdomen.  The moth’s body is stout and furry, whereas the butterfly’s body is smooth and slender.

What is the largest butterfly in the world? 

The Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing measures up to 11 inches in wingspan and is found in New Guinea.  The smallest is the Pygmy Blue and measures under a half-inch in wingspan.

What do we do with them after their lifecycle is over? 

Each morning, we collect the butterflies that have completed their lifecycle and follow USDA regulations to dispose of them.  Anything in the conservatory must be properly sterilized before we can remove it from the room.

What is happening in the “Nursery” or “Hatching Room”? 

All of our butterflies came from here.  These chrysalises are shipped to us overnight from all over the world packed in special soft cotton packing.  They are unpacked by our Butterfly Curators who in turn attaches them by their silk to the trays you see hanging in the chambers. In here, it takes them 4 to 5 days to hatch as a full adult butterfly.  We have typically between 30 and 40 hatchings a day, so we are constantly replenishing our butterflies.