Just like the tourists, butterflies in Key West are attracted to the beautiful weather and natural landscapes. Outdoor habitats throughout the Keys, such as Bahia Honda State Park and the gardens of the Audubon House, are excellent places to see these examples of natural diversity. One of the attractions in Old Key West is another fine place to come and explore the area's flora and fauna.
The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, found just a block from Southernmost Point, is home to an amazing array of colorful creatures. Under the glass of the tropical conservatory, visitors can step inside a world filled with winged butterflies. The climate-controlled habitat is particularly pleasing to the tropical butterflies from around the world. Visitors as well as these butterflies in Key West can admire the scene filled with flowering plants, towering trees, and tumbling waterfalls.
At any given time, the Key West Butterfly Conservatory is home to anywhere between 50 and 60 different species of butterflies in a kaleidoscope of shades. Different species of birds, also sporting a rainbow of colors, are found in the park as well. Visitors are sure to be inspired as they stroll through this peaceful place. Depending on the time of day they visit, guests will be greeted by difference scenes. Some species are most active in the morning, flying from flower to flower, while others bask in the late-afternoon sun.
The tiny residents of the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory begin their lives in butterfly farms and are not collected in the wild. After the eggs hatch and butterflies enter the chrysalis stage, they are shipped to the conservatory. The tropical regions are especially suited to raising butterflies, and the butterflies that are released from the farms can support the local habitats, as they feed on native trees, flowers, and nectar plants, spreading pollen and aiding new growth.
To hear more about this story, visitors should plan a stop at the Learning Center while exploring the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. A large mural depicts the countries where the butterflies are native species and explains the amazing migration of the black-and-orange monarch butterflies. There's also an interesting video to watch that details the life cycle of butterflies and an exhibit of live caterpillars.
In addition to the walk-trough, visitors to the Key West Butterfly Conservatory can ponder the butterfly as art. The gallery at the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory features an array of colorful works of art. With Wings of Imagination, visitors can admire the beauty of these fragile creatures. After living their lives in butterfly farms through the world, the butterflies have become works of art, thanks to the vision and creativity of artist Sam Trophia.
Some of the displays feature a single beauty, while others depict an array of butterflies in flight. Those who purchase a fine example of butterflies in Key West receive their artwork, along with a packet of information, a biography of the artist, and details on how to care for this unique item. The gift shop carries a wide variety of nature-themed items, and purchases can be shipped home.
The Key West Butterfly Conservatory is open daily. Admission discounts are available for seniors, member of the military, and children between the ages of 4 and 12. Young children are admitted free of charge, so families will likely find this to be one of the best things to do during a Florida Keys vacation.