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  6. They’re back! Fly on over to the Museum to see live butterflies

They’re back! Fly on over to the Museum to see live butterflies

© Canadian Museum of Nature


Ottawa, October 4, 2018 – The fall days are getting cooler, but things are heating up at the Canadian Museum of Nature with the return of Butterflies in Flight, a colourful exhibition of live, tropical butterflies. This popular show delighted more than 50,000 visitors when first presented last winter at the museum. Now it’s back by popular demand and the public will have another chance to get up close with these delicate, winged wonders from October 6, 2018 to April 22, 2019.

Hundreds of butterflies will flit around the museum’s solarium, landing on lush vegetation and feeding stations. At any given time there will be about two dozen different species to admire, including the stunning Blue Morpho—the star of the show. The climate in this oasis is humid, with the temperature kept generally around 26 degrees Celsius to keep these tropical beauties thriving.

“This exhibition was a huge hit with our visitors over the winter and we’re excited to offer it again,” says Ailsa Barry, Vice-President, Experience and Engagement, at the Canadian Museum of Nature. “Live animals provide a wonderful way to engage in and appreciate nature. People of all ages were thrilled when the butterflies landed on them, and, of course they shared their excitement by posting photos for friends and family to see.”

The butterflies are supplied from two sustainable farms in Costa Rica, and transported to the Museum during their pupal stage. Through a window, visitors can view the pupae hanging in the Animal Care room and perhaps spot some butterflies starting to emerge from their chrysalis. There will be a species identification guide, as well information about metamorphosis, flight mechanics, pollination and conservation.

Entry into Butterflies in Flight is time-ticketed. Time slots sold out quickly during the exhibition’s run earlier this year. It is strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at nature.ca to avoid disappointment, and to arrive at the museum at least 15 minutes prior to the ticket time. The special exhibition fee is $5 in addition to the cost of general museum admission. (On Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm, general admission is free; the special exhibition fee still applies). Visitors are encouraged to wear bright colours to attract the butterflies. A small supply of colourful vests will be available in the Solarium for borrowing.

Look for the hashtag #ButterfliesattheMuseum on the Museum’s social media channels: Twitter (@museumofnature) and Instagram (museumofnature). Follow the Museum on facebook.com/Canadianmuseumofnature.

The Museum is located at 240 McLeod Street (at Metcalfe St.), Ottawa. See nature.ca for hours and other information.

Interesting facts!

  • Did you know that butterflies taste through their feet and a group is called a flutter?
  • Butterflies and moths are classified in the insect order Lepidoptera, which means “scaled wings” in Latin.
  • Over 180 000 species of Lepidoptera are found everywhere on Earth, except Antarctica. Moth species outnumber butterfly species 10 to 1!
  • Ancestors of moths first appeared about 140 million years ago. Their butterfly cousins evolved later—the oldest butterfly fossil is about 55 million years old.
  • Butterflies are excellent pollinators. They flit from one flower to another, searching for nectar or places to lay their eggs.
  • Metamorphosis: After roughly four days in an egg, a caterpillar emerges and lives for around two weeks. This is followed by 10 days or so in a pupa or chrysalis. The adult butterfly will live anywhere between two and six weeks.
  • Adult butterflies retain responses developed at the caterpillar stage. If a caterpillar reacts to a certain smell, for example, the adult butterfly will share that response.
  • Costa Rica, which occupies only 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, is home to 10% of the world’s butterfly species!
  • Monarch butterflies of eastern North America make the longest migration of any insect in the world. It takes four generations of monarchs to complete the migration cycle.
  • According to a recent report in The Atlantic, Europe’s butterfly populations have reduced by half since 1990.   

Media Relations contacts:

Laura Sutin

Dan Smythe
613.566.4781 / (cell): 613.698.9263