A Visit to the Butterfly Conservatory

I have a confession. I’ve never really been into what I would call “nature stuff”.

I think my prejudice goes all the way back to my childhood. Remember those Hinterland Who’s Who films? Well, I had to watch quite a few of them back in school in the ’70’s. I still have memories of entering the classroom with my friends, all of us buzzing happily because the teacher had the FILM PROJECTOR all set up. I would squirm around in my seat, eagerly anticipating a break from the tedious tasks of Grade Two.

Then I would hear that familiar flute music…..and groan.

That’s pretty much been my reaction for most of my life: “Nature stuff” = boring.  Now I can’t blame poor old Hinterland for this. They’re pretty good sports about it, with a whole bunch of HWW spoofs on their website. I particularly like the Canadian Sloth one. But I’m starting to realize that because of my bias, I’ve missed out on some pretty cool things. Until now, that is.

Things like the Butterfly Conservatory.

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Some of my friends couldn’t believe I had never been there. I know people who stop there every time they are in the Niagara region. Hearing so much praise about the place, I realized I had to put my “nature stuff” bias aside, and just go.

I’m glad I did. It was a lovely afternoon.

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Just outside the conservatory building, they have a Wishing Walk. It’s quite charming, seeing people’s wishes tied to the branches, fluttering in the wind. I couldn’t resist reading some of the wishes.

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On entering the Conservatory, you see information about butterflies, and some of the species you can expect to see. I was dumbfounded by the fact that many butterfly species only live for two to three weeks. Two to three weeks! Such beauty, for only a short time. It’s a bit sad. It makes you realize that you should appreciate their loveliness even more. Then I got thinking about the cycle of life in general….how short a time we all are here on this planet for….and then…..Hmmmm. Let’s not go there. You don’t want to hear my amateur philosophizing.

This “nature stuff” can get you thinking about a lot of things. In my opinion, that’s excellent.

A tropical rainforest environment awaits when you enter.

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One of the first things I saw was this.

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Some butterflies feed on the juices from rotting fruit. It was quite something to see them all there, butterfly-slurping on the oranges. Well, I guess butterflies don’t slurp. They’re far too graceful.

Other species feed on the nectar of flowers.

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Some were feeding from these special feeders.

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There were so many beautiful butterflies to look at. The patterns on their wings were so vibrant, and the colours so vivid! I tried to get some short videos, but they were a bit too fast for me to follow. Ken was able to get some nice shots.

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I had heard that the butterflies often land on people while they are walking around. That didn’t happen to me, but I guess that’s probably a good thing. I have to get accustomed to this “nature stuff” gradually, right? We were still able to get pretty close to them.

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Just look at the intricate pattern on the butterfly wings below. Stunning.

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Butterflies aren’t the only creatures in the Conservatory. Keep an eye out for the display of Poison Arrow Dart Frogs. They must have been napping or something when I was there, because I couldn’t see them in the terrarium.

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You can also spot turtle, koi and goldfish in the ponds. So many interesting plants to look at too.

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And, of course, so many different types of butterflies.

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You can take your time, walking back and forth for as long as you like. There are benches placed throughout the conservatory too.

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Also, until March 31st, the Conservatory is home to a special exhibit from the Montreal Insectarium. “We Are The Insects” will feature a variety of educational displays and live specimens. You can see Praying Mantis, Flower Beetles, Cockroaches and Scorpions among others. This is an optional value added exhibit, included with your admission to the Conservatory.

I’m glad I went. It was a good introduction to the world of “nature stuff”. Perhaps I have banished the ghost of those childhood Hinterland films.

Though I can’t seem to get that darned theme song out of my head.