Butterflies in Winter

Are you tired of winter? Do you dream of warmer days and butterflies? There are places where you can see butterflies this winter without traveling south of the border.

Tropical butterfly exhibits are great places to see many different species of butterflies up close. Take a camera and you are bound to get some great photos.

Here are butterfly exhibits that open year-round in the United States and Canada. So get rid of those winter blues and go find some butterflies!

Butterfly Wonderland
9500 E. Via de Ventura
Scottsdale, Arizona 85256
Phone: (480) 800-3000

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
1001 Fairgrounds Dr.
Vallejo, CA 94589
Phone: (707) 643-6722

Butterfly Pavilion
6252 West 104th Ave.
Westminster, CO 80020
Phone: (303) 469-5441

Sometimes the butterflies will actually come and land on you like this beautiful Paper Rice butterfly at the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver, Colorado.

Butterfly Pavilion
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20560
Phone: (202) 633-1000

Butterfly World
3600 W. Sample Road
Coconut Creek, Florida 33073
Phone: (954) 977-4400

Butterfly Rainforest
Florida Museum of Natural History
University of Florida
SW 34th Street and Hull Road
Gainesville, FL 32611
Phone: (352) 846-2000

I caught this colorful Red Lacewing (Cethosia biblis) feeding on Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia spp.) at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, Florida.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
1316 Duval Street
Key West, FL 33040
Phone: (800) 839-4647

The Butterfly Estates
1815 Fowler St
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Phone: (239) 600-2359

A tropical paradise awaits inside Butterfly Estates in Ft. Myers.

Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center
Callaway Gardens
5887 Georgia Highway 354
Pine Mountain, GA 31822
Phone: (800) CALLAWAY

Judy Istock Butterfly Haven
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 755-5100

Reiman Gardens
Iowa State University
1407 University Blvd.
Ames, Iowa 50011
Phone: (515) 294-2710

Common Mormon (Papilio polytes)

Butterflies in Flight
Audubon Insectarium
6500 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70118
Phone: (800) 774-7394

The Butterfly Kingdom
York’s Wild Kingdom
1 Animal Park Road, York, ME 03901
Phone: (207) 363-4911

The Butterfly Place
120 Tyngsboro Road
Westford, MA 01886
Phone: (978) 392-0955
Opens February 14

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens
281 Greenfield Road (Routes 5 & 10)
South Deerfield, MA   01373
Phone: (413) 665-2805

Museum of Science, Boston
1 Science Park
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (613) 723-2500

You can see beautiful tropical butterflies in the middle of winter such as this Clipper butterfly (Parthenos sylvia). I saw this beauty at the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver, Colorado.

Detroit Zoo
Woodward Avenue and 10 Mile Road (I-696)
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Phone: (248) 541-5717

The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House & Insect World
6750 McGulpin Street
Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Phone: (906) 847-3972

Sophie B. Sachs Butterfly House
Missouri Botanical Garden
Faust Park
15193 Olive Blvd.
Chesterfield, MO 63017
Phone: (636) 530-0076

Saint Louis Zoo Insectarium
One Government Drive
St. Louis, MO
Phone: (314) 781-0900
Admission to Insectarium is free all day, every day.

The Butterfly Palace
4106 W 76 Country Blvd
Branson, MO
Phone: (417) 332-2231

One of the popular and spectacular butterflies you can see at many butterfly exhibits is the Blue Morpho.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
3701 S. 10th Street, Omaha, NE 68107
Phone: (402) 733-8400

Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden
National Museum of Play
One Manhattan Square
Rochester, NY 14607
Phone: (585) 263-2700

Magic Wings Butterfly House
North Carolina Museum of Life & Science
433 Murray Avenue
Durham, NC 27704
Phone: (919) 220-5429

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Living Conservatory 11 West Jones St.
Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 733-7450

Doris Longwing (Heliconius doris) nectaring on Mexican Flame Vine.

Cleveland Botanical Garden
11030 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH
Phone: (216) 721-1600

Elkton Community Education Center
15850 State Highway 38
Elkton, OR 97436
Phone: (541) 584-2692

Hershey Gardens
170 Hotel Road
Hershey, PA 17033
Phone: (717) 534-3492

Sertoma Butterfly House
4320 Oxbow Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57106
Phone: (605) 334-9466

Sara Longwing (Heliconius sara) showing off its iridescent blue wings.

Tennessee Aquarium
One Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402
Phone: (800) 262-0695

Cockrell Butterfly Center
The Houston Museum of Natural Science
5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston, Texas 77030
Phone: (713) 639-4629

Green Banded Swallowtail, photographed at the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston, Texas. Photo by Christina McKinney.


Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House & Insectarium
Texas Discovery Gardens
3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Gate 6 at Fair Park
Dallas, Texas 75210
Phone: (214) 428-7476

Butterfly Biosphere
3003 N Thanksgiving Way
Lehi, UT 84043
Phone: (801) 768-2300

The Butterfly Biosphere is a new 40,000 square foot venue and home to over a thousand butterflies from around the globe.

Pacific Science Center Tropical Butterfly House
200 2nd Ave N
Seattle, Washington
Phone: (206) 443-2001

Puelicher Butterfly Wing
Milwaukee Public Museum
800 West Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Phone: (414) 278-2728

Butterfly Exhibits will display the various species of chrysalises so visitors can observe as the butterflies eclose.

Victoria Butterfly Gardens
1461 Benvenuto Avenue
Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
Phone: (877) 722-0272

Canadian Museum of Nature – Musée canadien de la nature
240 McLeod Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Phone: (800)263-4433

F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery
Science North
100 Ramsey Lake Road
Sudbury, ON P3E 5S9 Canada
Phone: (705) 522-3701

Mexican Bluewing (Myscelia ethusa)
Spread the message and wear this “Plant Milkweed” t-shirt created by Butterfly Lady. https://amzn.to/2PFvZn4

Worldly Monarchs

Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) are best known for their annual migration in North America. But many people do not realize that Monarch butterflies are not just found in North America. These iconic butterflies can be seen around the world and form populations that do not migrate or that only migrate short distances.

Monarchs cluster together in colonies in a forest of Oyamel trees in Mexico. (Photo by Carol Pasternak. Used with permission.)

Monarchs thrive throughout Central and South America. They are residents in the islands of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and Cuba. Monarchs live in North Africa and migrate to the Canary Islands, the Azores, Madeira, Portugal, and Spain. Even on occasion a rare migrant can be found in the United Kingdom. They have also been seen in Bermuda, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Ceylon, India and Nepal. Monarchs live year-round on the Hawai‘ian Islands as well as on other Pacific Islands. They are abound in New Zealand and Australia.

From Monarchs and Milkweed A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution by Anurag Agrawal. Click Here or on the photo to see more.

Scientists believe that the Monarch butterfly is originally from North America, but over the years they have made their way throughout the world colonizing new locations where they could find various species of Milkweeds for their host plants. For example, Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly known as Swan Plant, is a species of Milkweed native to southeast Africa, but it has been naturalized in New Zealand, most likely before the Monarchs arrived. Monarchs were probably knowingly or unknowingly transported on ships and then were able to find their host plants to survive.

Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly known as Balloonplant, Balloon Cotton-bush, Nailhead, or Swan Plant, is a species of Milkweed. The plant is native to southeast Africa, but it has been widely naturalized. The name “Balloonplant” is an allusion to the swelling bladder-like follicles which are full of seeds.

It’s possible that extreme weather events helped to relocate Monarchs. It is believed by some that Monarchs were carried to Australia from New Caledonia on cyclones. Once they arrived, they found MilkweedGomphocarpus physocarpusoriginally from South Africa, and the Asclepias Curassavica  from Central America that had become naturalized and the butterflies successfully established a breeding population.

The Monarch butterfly, also known as the Wanderer in Australia, makes limited migratory movements in cooler areas. It has only been present in Australia since about 1871.

Monarchs spread throughout much of the world in the 1800s. They were first seen in Hawai‘i in the 1840s, and spread throughout the South Pacific in the 1850s-60s. In the early 1870s, the first Monarchs were reported in Australia and New Zealand.

Monarch butterflies were first recorded in Tonga in 1863. It’s believed these butterflies were transported from Hawai‘i and adapted to eat Crown Flower (Calotropis gigantea).

Wherever they are found, Monarchs have become one of the best-known and favorite butterflies throughout the world.

Monarch flying over Tenerife in the Canary Islands. (Photo by Margot Leandro. Used with permission.)