Conservatory Charm

By Kate Riley August 28, 2012

One of our stops on our way through Canada earlier this month was Niagara Falls, we all wanted to see the big waterfall show and take the ferry underneath its mist which we did and it was awesome!  Another stop we made was a place I’d read and heard about, the butterfly conservatory in the botanical gardens.  I’m always up for a walk through some pretty gardens and if a butterfly habitat is included, well sign me up! 

The butterfly conservatory was like walking through a story book or enchanted secret garden and so charming to have thousands of beautiful creatures fluttering so gracefully around you among tropical foliage and an indoor waterfall. 

statue in conservatory

Did you know that most butterflies have very brief life spans?  A few migrate, and a few others can live for many months, but most butterflies have only two to four weeks to live.

black and white striped butterfly

butterfly wings


Some butterflies are migratory such as the famous Monarch which travels south from the Great Lakes in the winter and north from Mexico in the spring. 

orange butterfly on leaf

black butterfly on flower


Did you know the vivid wings of butterflies are formed by layers teeny tiny scales that reflect light in different colors?  As a butterfly ages, the scales fall off the wings. 

blue butterfly on leaf

black and coral butterfly


Butterflies are cold blooded insects that cannot regulate their own body temperatures and need an ideal body temperature of about 85ºF to fly.  If climate temperatures fall below 55ºF, butterflies are rendered immobile.  

butterfly gif


Some butterflies fold their wings to camouflage themselves into the background, others try the opposite strategy with vibrant color.  Bright colored ones are toxic or simply mimicking their bad tasting cousins to repel predators.

orange butterfly

 black and yellow butterfly


Adult butterflies live on fluid nutrients gathered from flowering nectar producing plants and decaying fruits.  Did you know butterflies taste food by standing on it? Their taste sensors are in their feet and a drinking straw like mouth sips up the meal once the feet find it!

butterfly feeding


And did you know if you’re eight years old and stand very still and patiently wait and wait inside a conservatory, you might just get very lucky and have a butterfly crawl right up on your finger and say hello.

butterfly on girls finger

It’s hard to imagine any place more charming than a butterfly conservatory.

Highly recommended!



  1. Went to this butterfly exhibit when on vacation at Niagara Falls 2 years ago with my husband (then fiance). I had my first ever panic attack inside this exhibit. I thought I liked butterflies but there were so many of them and I freaked out about them landing on me and flying so close to my head. Beautiful there but I couldn’t enjoy it. :(

  2. ok confession…. I am totally terrified of butterflies or anything that flies for that matter. We live near a butterfly conservatory and I went once and have not been back since- when they started landing on my clothes I seriously started hyperventilating. Sad huh?? They are so beautiful but for me I can only admire them at a distance. and dont get me started on birds…….

  3. I live very near the Conservatory. My kids have loved going through, soaking up new and more interesting stuff as they grew up. I especially love the turtles in the ponds too. I’m glad you had such a nice trip to Niagara, everyone should come once! :)

  4. I was at the shore of Lake Ontario one year at the time the monarchs arrived. You couldn’t see the sand — it was like one huge multi-colored blanket. A true sight to behold!

    • Wow Alex that does sound incredible, hope you got some pics to go with that memory of a “Monarch blanket” !

  5. That’s so close to Buffalo, NY!!!! I used to go there with my aunt as a child!! I love it and now you’ve motivated me to visit again!!

  6. Beautiful photography! I did not know that butterflies have such a short lifespan. A friend has one of those butterfly bushes, and she has swarms of gorgeous butterflies in her backyard. :)

  7. I’ve been to the butterfly garden in Denver and it was amazing! I made one of those Snapfish or Shutterfly photo books with all the photos I took. I love the one you took with the statue!

  8. Some of these are incorrectly identified as butterflies when they are, indeed, moths. Moths have a larger body and bi-directional antennae.

  9. What a lovely post! I adore butterflies, and your pictures are truly gorgeous! It’s somewhat sad that they only live for such a short time, isn’t it? :( Brings to mind a quote from Wordsworth…’though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower, we shall grieve not, but rather find strength in what remains behind’.

    Thanks for getting my day started off with such beautiful pictures.

  10. Gorgeous photography Kate. I’m so glad you seem to have had such a wonderful vacation in Canada. I live in Canada and I say “Welcome Kate and her family. Please come back often and enjoy!”

  11. If you’re ever back in the Niagara region be sure to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake a very charming area with quaint stores, beautiful homes and gardens, wineries, great restaurants, fruit stands, antique stores and the list goes on.

  12. Gorgeous photos! I absolutely love butterflies, such beautiful creatures. Thank you for sharing

  13. Hi ya Kate… I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying your tour of some of our wonderful Canadian cities. Old Quebec is and always will be one of my favourite places to visit and Niagara is a short 2 hour drive and excuse to grab a hotel for a night as there is just sooo much to see and do. The butterfly conservatory is a breath of delight. Your photos do it justice. Enjoy the rest of the time while your small people are out of school… a reprieve for you is just around the corner. School days- YEAHH.

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