Frequently Asked Questions About Our Butterflies

1How many different butterflies are there?
There are approximately 24,000 species of butterflies world-wide.
2How many different butterfly species will be at Krohn?
We are expecting up to 85 different species of free-flying butterflies from all over the world for this year’s show!
3How do you feed the butterflies?

It is important that we have a variety of food sources available to the butterflies to maintain their health. We oer a diverse selection of nectar plants in the show because nectar is the primary food source for many butterflies. The flowers vary in sizes and colors. A few times throughout the show the plants are rotated to insure that plenty of nectar is available.

We also have a few frugivorous butterflies, including the blue morpho and the giant owl, they prefer to feed only on fruit. This is why you will see fermenting fruit on feeding trays throughout the exhibit. We have found that the butterflies really enjoy oranges, bananas, watermelon, mangos and cantaloupe. It is important to note that visitors are not allowed to bring in outside fruit. If you are interested in donating fruit, please contact Regina, our entomologist, at regina.edwards@cincinnati-oh.gov.

We also have feeders filled with orange Gatorade. It offers butterflies additional minerals to keep them healthy.

4How often do butterflies need to eat?
Butterflies all have their own special needs. Some butterflies will need to eat more often than others, similar to people. There are a lot of factors to consider; examples include air temperature, how much they are flying, their age, whether they are male or female, and even the nutritional value of the food.
5What is the rarest butterfly in the Show? How many will be on display?
We are all familiar with the blue morpho butterfly, but a more unique butterfly is the white morpho. It is very similar to the blue morpho but is completely white. It can usually be found perched in a tree, but if you remain patient and look real hard, you may see these beauties gliding though the showroom! We hope to have a few hundred throughout the show for everyone’s enjoyment!
6How fast do butterflies fly?
Butterflies fly on average 5-12 mph, smaller butterflies tend to fly faster than larger butterflies.
7How far does the monarch butterfly migrate?
Monarchs can migrate up to 3000 miles, traveling from Canada to Mexico each year. Even more amazing, in the following spring, these same monarchs will leave Mexico and begin their journey north laying eggs. There are no other butterflies that make a long, two-way migration. It has been recorded that one migrating Monarch traveled 265 miles in one day.
8Do butterflies have any unique traits?

Yes, every butterfly has unique characteristics that have helped it survive in their native environments; these characteristics are called adaptations. Below are some examples of adaptations that butterflies possess.

Warning Coloration – Bright colors on animals, such as reds, oranges and yellows, may be considered outward “signs” that they are dangerous to predators. An example is the Monarch butterfly, they are toxic to birds.

Mimicry – Many butterflies will mimic the appearance or behavior of another butterfly or animal if it helps them survive. An example is the giant owl butterfly, they have large eyespots that may appear to a predator to be an owl or another large bird. This characteristic helps prevent them from being attacked and eaten.

Basking – Many butterflies love to bask or rest with their wings open in a sunny spot. This behavior helps them warm their bodies so they may fly. You may see butterflies in the show on stones basking in the warm sunlight. Butterflies fly best when the air temperature is above 80oF.

Scales – Butterflies are a unique group of insects that have wings covered in tiny scales, these scales are what gives the butterflies their wing colors and patterns. These scales are very important in helping to protect the butterfly. When butterflies lose their scales, their protective colors cannot protect them anymore and the lack of scales can make it increasingly dicult for them to fly to safe areas and to find food. This is why it is important that we do not unnecessarily touch or handle butterflies, we need to help protect their delicate wings.

9Do butterflies lay eggs in the show?
No, we do not have plants that butterflies will want to lay eggs on, these plants are referred to as host plants.
10How long do butterflies live?
Many butterflies live on average 4-6 weeks, although, there are always exceptions. Some smaller butterflies may live for only a week while some butterflies that migrate or hibernate may live for up to 10 months. A few butterflies also feed on pollen and with the additional protein they can live 5-6 months, if they do not receive the extra protein they live on average 4-6 weeks.
11How many eggs do butterflies lay?
All butterflies are different, dependent upon the species. The female Monarch, for example, can lay 500-700 eggs throughout her life. She lays her eggs one at a time on the only plant the caterpillars will eat, milkweeds.
12How do butterflies grow?
The life cycle of a butterfly is called as a complete metamorphosis. It goes through four stages; egg, larvae (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult (butterfly). An adult female butterfly lays eggs on specific host plants, these plants are important because they are the only food the caterpillars will eat once the egg hatches. As the caterpillars eat, they molt their exoskeletons which allows their bodies to grow larger. They will molt approximately five times before becoming a chrysalis. While they are in the chrysalis stage they are not mobile and they do not eat, but they may wriggle and/or make creaking sounds as a defense for protection. Once the butterfly has completed its transformation it emerges from the chrysalis and expands its wings. Depending on the size of the butterfly, temperature and humidity, it may take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours for their wings to dry so that they may fly.
13Can I raise butterflies at home?
Yes, many people have butterfly gardens at home! We definitely encourage everyone to plant native butterfly friendly plants. It is important to have nectar plants as a food source for adult butterflies as well as host plants for butterflies to lay eggs on for the caterpillars to eat. If you are concerned about garden space, butterflies even love flowers and host plants in decorative pots on a porch!
14Where can milkweeds be purchased to help Monarchs?
Krohn Conservatory will be selling Monarch Relief Kits in the gift shop during the Butterfly Show. These kits consist of milkweed plants that are ready to be planted outside when you get home.