The monarch is king at this year’s Butterflies Go Free exhibit, hosted by the Montreal Botanical Garden.
The distinctive orange and black pattern of the monarch’s wings and white, black and green stripes of the caterpillar are featured prominently in the décor and living versions abound.
Although the monarch stands out as the main attraction, there are more than 75 species of butterflies and moths this year. Many have been shipped in from farms around the world, a sustainable industry that involves local communities—50 hectares of Costa Rican rain forest have been preserved by the Montreal Insectarium for this very purpose. Just inside the entrance of the greenhouse you’ll find pamphlets and a chart to carry with you within the exhibit that shows some of the varieties of butterflies you’ll encounter. The average visitor will see up to 50. Mornings and sunny days are the best time to visit, as the approximately 2,000 butterflies need warmth to get their wings going.
While it’s easy to be captivated by the flitting wings, take the time to listen to animators like Kaja Verret Holding, a three-year veteran of the exhibit. Her enthusiasm and knowledge make for a much richer experience. You’ll learn things like how to make a butterfly oasis of your own in even the smallest space, and you might be present for one of the daily butterfly releases.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the host plants—an area where sharp eyes can spot eggs, caterpillars and, hopefully, cocoons.
The Butterflies Go Free exhibit runs from Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm until April 28 at the Montreal Botanical Garden, 4101 Sherbrooke E. montrealspaceforlife.ca