Key West Butterfly Museum and Nature Conservatory
The butterfly museum was an impressive collection of flowering plants and trees. There were 50 to 60 different butterfly species from around the world, as well as varieties of colorful birds.
Enclosed in a glass habitat, the butterflies were everywhere. The butterflies are not collected from the wild, but come from butterfly farming operations in the tropics. At these farms, the butterflies are bred in captivity. The eggs hatch and the caterpillars feed on their native host plants. Once they pupate to a chrysalis, they are harvested and shipped by courier to the Conservatory. Various government permits are required to import the butterflies.
The captive breeding of butterflies is environmentally beneficial through the release of butterflies into the wild and the culture of native shrubs, flowers and trees as host and nectar plants.
This was a unique opportunity to watch the butterflies in a tropical setting.
Photographing the butterflies was a challenge, though. They would fly off, close their wings, and do all kinds of antics to keep you from getting that perfect shot.
The Conservatory is kept at 85 degrees with 80% humidity. Sad, but most butterflies live only about 10 days. There are some long wing butterflies here that live up to 3 months. Different butterflies are active at different times of the day. Some are active in the morning, and roost in the evening. Others, such as the owl butterfly, are active in the evening.
This was a unique, unexpected way to spend an afternoon in Key West.
Back to Key West Story