The Niagara peninsula is one of my favorite places in Canada. Not just because of majestic thunderous Niagara Falls, but because of the many parks and gardens, the beautiful vineyards, lovely small towns, and that marvel of engineering that is the Welland Canal. And it’s home to my favorite cousin, Liz, who has shown me the highlights of the peninsula during a number of visits, including my last stop there when we made a point of going to the Butterfly Conservatory. The Butterfly Conservatory opened in 1996 and is a special place, home to over 2,000 tropical butterflies.
The Butterfly Conservatory is situated on the grounds of beautiful Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, about a 10 minute drive north of Niagara Falls. Your visit begins with a short informative video presentation and then you set off to see the butterflies. There are 60 different colorful species of butterflies that live in the 1022 sq m (11,000 sq ft) Conservatory, which provides a climate-controlled, humid, tropical environment for them. There are 180 m (590 ft) of paths that let you walk through the conservatory and provide you a chance to identify and interact with a large variety of lepidoptera. The attraction is open year round and can accommodate about 300 guests/hour.
You’ll often find the butterflies resting on plants, fluttering about, sitting on people’s bodies, and sucking nectar at one of the feeding stations. Fine screens keep the butterflies away from the glass dome which is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter for these delicate creatures to rest on. Visitors who want the butterflies to land on them should stand still or move very slowly. The insects are attracted to bright clothes and perfume.
Captive butterflies are short-lived, having a life span of about 2–4 weeks. So the conservatory imports up to 3,000 butterflies per month from farms in such far-reaching countries as Costa Rica, Australia and the Philippines. Some 45,000 butterflies are produced (“hatched”) at the Conservatory each year.
I love to watch butterflies, so for me this visit was a real treat. If you have lots of time and good luck, you might want to see a butterfly crawl out of it’s chrysalide in the Conservatory.
The Butterfly Conservatory sits in an botanical garden which also includes an outdoor butterfly garden with plants and butterflies native to Ontario. The Botanical Gardens has over 80 acres of plants, trees and such — over 1,000 different species. The Conservatory is also home to a school of Horticulture, whose students manicure the garden and take excellent care of the vegetation. During the summer, horse-and-carriage tours are available for those who want to explore the gardens in style.
– Botanical Garden: Free admission. Open sunrise to Sunset
– Butterfly Conservatory: $14.25 Adults (13+ years), $8.25 Children (6 to 12 years). Hours vary depending on the season. Children 5 and under are FREE!