One walk through the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is all you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Experience over 40 species of exotic, free-flying butterflies and several stunning bird species from the Southern hemisphere in our 2,700 square-foot greenhouse. Complete with serene pools of water, flowers, tropical trees, and 1,000 butterflies, it always feels like summer in the Butterfly Haven.
Don’t forget to join us for our daily 2pm First Flight Butterfly Release. Learn about the life cycle from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, then watch as newly-emerged butterflies and moths take flight for the very first time. Access to the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven and the First Flight Butterfly Release are included with admission.
Want to spend even more time in the Butterfly Haven? Learn more about our weekly Butterfly Haven Yoga sessions here.
Get to know the Butterfly Haven residents. Use the button below to download a printable version of our Butterfly & Bird Guide.
A Closer Look
The Butterfly Life Cycle
Butterflies and moths go through a lot of changes before they can take flight for the first time. They go through a process called complete metamorphosis. This means that they go through four major life stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis/cocoon), and adult (butterfly).
Adult female butterflies lay their eggs on very special plants called host plants. Host plants are the plants a species eats. You might know that monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed, but did you know that black swallowtail caterpillars can only eat plants in the carrot family? By laying the eggs on their food source, the adult butterflies are giving the caterpillars easy access to food as soon as they hatch.
Once they have developed enough, the caterpillars will chew their way out of their eggs and begin eating immediately. A caterpillar’s big job is to eat and eat and grow. Every time they get a little bigger, they have to molt, or shed their exoskeleton, to have enough room to grow even more.
Caterpillars crawl on short legs, don’t have wings, and eat leaves instead of drinking nectar. They’re really different from grown-up butterflies, so they still have a lot of growing and developing to do. They grow exponentially in just a matter of weeks! For example, monarch caterpillars grow to 2,000 times their original mass in just two weeks!
After a few weeks, the caterpillar will enter the next life stage, the pupa stage. The caterpillar will spin a pad of silk and attach itself to a leaf or a twig before molting off its exoskeleton one more time, revealing the pupa underneath.
Both butterflies and moths go through the four basic life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. When they reach the pupa stage, they deal with it in different ways. Butterfly caterpillars become chrysalises. The pupa’s body hardens to help protect it from predators, but the butterfly caterpillar doesn’t make any additional covering. The moth caterpillar, on the other hand, creates a covering out of silk that covers the pupa for additional protection. That covering is called a cocoon. Can you see the differences between them?
If you look at a chrysalis, you can’t see anything you’d expect to see on a bug—they don’t have legs or eyes or antennae or a mouth. Chrysalises don’t eat, but they can wiggle and even make squeaky sounds! Above all else, a chrysalis has one incredibly important job to do. It has to turn all of its insides, every last bit, from caterpillar to butterfly insides.
Caterpillars and butterflies are super different—they eat differently, they move differently, they even have different eyes and antennae. So they don’t just need to grow wings, they need a completely different body. They turn their insides into goo and rebuild a brand new butterfly body inside their skin! This is why it’s important for the chrysalis to be well camouflaged. The better it blends into its surroundings, the more protected it will be from predators, and the better its chance of survival.
When a chrysalis is finally done transforming, usually after a few weeks, it molts one last time to enter the adult stage. Once it emerges from the chrysalis husk, the butterfly pumps fluid from its body into its wings, helping them take shape. Once its wings stiffen, the adult butterfly is ready to feed and fly!
Experience our First Flight Butterfly Release from the comfort of your own home! Check out the video below to watch Marjorie release a kaleidoscope of butterflies into the Butterfly Haven for the very first time. How many species can you recognize?