The butterflies are the stars of the show, but it’s not all about them at the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls.
Sure, more than 2,000 of nature’s little beauties are flitting about the place at any given time. Forty-five species, in fact. And yeah, you do get to go ‘on safari,’ so to speak, by roaming freely through their environment where chances are excellent that by the end of your visit several will have landed on you to say hello.
The butterflies rule. But throughout the year, especially during the summer and on school breaks, you’re just as likely to find a display of creepy (and edible) insects or other actors on nature’s stage, like reptiles and small mammals, being presented by knowledgeable staff with a gift of the gab and a willingness to let guests get up close with the animals.
The Butterfly Conservatory is located on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, right on the Niagara Parkway about a 15-minute drive north of the Horseshoe Falls. Step inside the glassed-in compound to a tropical world of paths, lush flowers and plants and waterfalls. Definitely family friendly.
About 40 per cent of the butterflies that live there were raised in a quarantined greenhouse on site, and visitors can eyeball the Emergence Window, where butterflies exit their pupae and prepare to fly for the first time. The ones that aren’t bred locally are imported from butterfly farms in El Salvador, the Philippines and Costa Rica.
After you’ve met the butterflies, there’s no reason to stop being one with nature since you’re already at the Botanical Gardens, founded in 1936, with its 99 acres of pristine gardens that are probably the loveliest in all of Canada. The rose garden alone features more than 2,400 flowers tended by staff and by students at the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. There is a bloom schedule posted online at Niagara Parks and among those due to blossom soon are the Day Lilies and Hostas.
Cheers, Holiday Inn Niagara Falls