|Photo courtesy of Callaway Gardens|
Before entering the main part of the conservatory the public is educated on the life cycle of the butterfly as well as the differences between moths and butterflies.
|Antennae||rounded clubs on the ends||thin or often feathery|
|Body||thin and smooth||thick and fuzzy|
|Active||during the day||during the night|
|Wings||held vertically when resting||held flat against body when resting|
About 30% of the butterflies are produced in-house. The rest come from butterfly farms in the tropical rain forests of Malaysia, the Philippines and Central and South America.
The chrysalis hang in small rooms with a glass front for the public to view. They are attached to Styrofoam looking sheets with a large pin. There they hang until the butterflies are ready to break free.
Some chrysalis resemble shriveled leaves which would provide camouflage during the butterfly's metamorphosis while others are brightly colored to blend in with tropical plants. Do you see the metallic gold group on the left side? I wonder which tropical plant they blend in to?
I wish I could tell you what type of butterflies came out of each type of chrysalis but they were simply marked with numbers.
Some of the chrysalis are really large. A few of them were even starting to quiver and shake...
This butterfly was starting to break the chrysalis open right before our eyes.
Once the butterfly has wriggled out it begins to pump blood into its wings to help them to dry out and expand. This doesn't take long and when its wings are dry the butterfly is ready to fly away and search for food.
Once we had gawked sufficiently at this miracle of metamorphosis we entered into the tropical area where we were engrossed with flutters of butterflies in flight. If you stood still long enough you could end up with a butterfly on your shoulder. Here is a sampling of the tropical beauties we saw.
Butterflies enjoy drinking the juice of fruits. Throughout the butterfly house were feeding stations made from shallow bird baths. These were randomly placed in locations where people could closely sit and observe the butterflies in action.
Look closely at the photo above and you will see the proboscis (butterfly's tongue) between its two front legs. It is hollow and the butterfly uses it like a straw to drink the juice from the orange.
Around the outside of the conservatory are gardens that have been planted to attract the native butterflies. Callaway claims that people can watch up to 75 species of native butterflies during the warmer months.These gardens show the public what types of plants butterflies are attracted to and host plants where they lay their eggs and the caterpillars eat. The purpose is to encourage people to incorporate some of these plants in their own gardens.
This was an amazing experience as I do love butterflies. It was hard to get myself to leave but there was more to explore. On our walk through the woods from the Butterfly House to our next destination, Birds of Prey, we saw this beautiful Luna Moth at the base of a pine tree. We were as excited to see this beautiful moth as we were being surrounded by gorgeous butterflies.
Please return for my last post on Callaway Gardens where I will share my experience with the Birds of Prey.