Butterfly Encounter

Hours

  • Open Tuesday–Friday: 1:00PM–4:00PM
  • Weekends & Holidays: 11:00AM–4:00PM
  • Last entry at 3:30PM Daily

Pricing

  • $6 Adults, Seniors, and Youth
    Note: Butterfly Encounter is a separate ticket add-on to General Admission.
  • $5 Members (Learn more)

Exhibit Information

Dive into a fully living, tropical experience at the all new Butterfly Encounter. Experience an immersive exhibit like no other at the Science Center. With new species and a variety of tropical plants, this exhibit is not only fully living but constantly growing. Experience life science at its best with colorful butterflies in our tropical greenhouse.

  • All-season butterfly habitat and greenhouse.
  • Experience 40-50 different species free flying. New species added weekly to showcase their amazing diversity.
  • Watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalis, and then be released. Observe the magic of the final stage of metamorphosis.
  • The average temperature inside this tropical exhibit is 80°F with around 80% humidity.
  • Epiphyte Tree – Our Epiphyte “tree” provides a beautiful centerpiece inside the Butterfly Encounter and hosts a variety of epiphytes (air plants) including bromeliads and orchids. Epiphytes are organisms that grow on the surface of a plant and obtain nutrients from the air or moisture.
  • More than 30 different species of plants chosen specifically with our butterflies in mind.
  • With butterflies from South Asia and Costa Rica, our butterflies are a part of a global sustainability effort that is not only saving the forest but also boosting economies.

Sustainability

Our butterflies are not just beautiful and educational; they are also a part of a global conservation effort. By creating an opportunity to generate income for farmers, these butterflies improve forest restoration and increase awareness for conservation in areas where there was once none. Most butterfly farmers rely on the natural forest to grow their butterfly trade. This means that they have to work to conserve as much natural forest as possible. Studies have shown that this link between conservation and butterfly farming has increased positive attitudes and behaviors among butterfly farmers.

Exhibit Sponsors

Presented by:

Mark & Luanne Paley and Roger & Sondra Beit


Supported by:

Our Butterflies

  • Clipper
  • Blue Morpho
  • Malachite
  • Costa Rica Glasswing
  • Crimson-banded Black
  • Whitened Bluewing
  • Julia Longwing

FAQ

What are the hours of the Butterfly Encounter?
Weekends and Holidays: 11AM-4PM
Tuesday–Friday: 1PM-4PM

Is the Butterfly Encounter included with General Admission?

The Butterfly Encounter requires a separate ticket add-on for $6. General Admission is required.

As a Connecticut Science Center Member, do I get a discount on the Butterfly Encounter?

Yes, Members save $1 per person.

Does my ticket to the Butterfly Encounter have as specific entry time? Is there a timed limit that I can stay? Can I come back in when I want?

Admission to the Butterfly Encounter covers the day. You can go back in and visit as many times as you like throughout the day.

What will I see in the Butterfly Encounter?

We have a created a stunningly beautiful environment to host tropical plants and butterflies. Once in the Butterfly Encounter, you will see and experience free-flying butterflies interacting with the water feature, plants, vines, and feeding stations included in the gardens.

How many butterflies will I see? How many different kinds of butterflies will I encounter?

We try to maintain a population of 100-200 butterflies within the Butterfly Encounter at all times. On any given day, you may see up to 20-30 different types of butterflies. New species will be introduced regularly.

Why is everything in the Butterfly Encounter tropical? Why not native plants and butterflies?

We want the Butterfly Encounter exhibit to be active and populated year round. Native butterflies are only seasonal, and tropical butterflies require tropical plants. We created a tropical paradise with blooming flowers such as Pentas, Ixoras, and the Golden Shrimp plant, important habitat components for tropical butterflies. This very special and magical environment will provide year round opportunities for education about natural systems and conservation.

If it’s a tropical Butterfly Encounter, is it really hot in there? How do you keep it from getting too hot?

In order for the tropical plants and butterflies to thrive, we try to maintain a constant 80-degree temperature, and 80% humidity. It’s rather…tropical! To maintain the climate and “biosphere” we have created in the Butterfly Encounter, you will notice a fine mist being sprayers overhead. They are spraying highly purified water which is filtered through a process called Reverse Osmosis. Once filtered, this water contains no chemicals or minerals at all. The sprayers go off roughly every ten minutes, so do not be alarmed. If you’re standing under them when they go off, they will provide you with a pleasant, cooling mist.

What do butterflies eat?

We’ve provided many nectar-producing plants, which is optimal for the butterflies. As supplements to their diet, we also offer fruit, and our ‘house’ nectar recipe, which is what you will see in the feeding dishes. Butterflies eat a variety of things. Some love rotting fruit, others love nectar from flowers. The rotting fruit and special nectar provides butterflies with a source of important nutrients and amino acids that helps the butterflies live longer.

How long do butterflies live and where do they come from?

In the wild, most butterflies will live 7-10 days. In our Butterfly Encounter most butterflies live for two weeks, but others, given the right conditions and food can live up to a couple of months. That’s why we regularly introduce new butterflies into the enclosure. Our butterflies come from butterfly farms in tropical regions all over the world. These farms are helping to diversify local income sources while increasing forest conservation.

How do you release new butterflies into the enclosure, and how frequently does that happen?

Within the Butterfly Enclosure, you will notice a big cabinet on the wall. That’s our Emergence Cabinet. It’s like a “butterfly nursery” where our staff pin the pupae to rods and give them time to emerge. When the butterflies have fully emerged from their protective outer case, our staff releases them into the Butterfly Encounter garden. Depending on how far developed each pupae is when they get to us, it can take a couple of days to a week or more for each one to emerge.

Can we touch the butterflies or the plants?

We ask that you do not touch or pick up the butterflies – human hands, no matter how gentle, can damage the scales on butterfly wings and make it impossible for them to fly. However, if a butterfly lands on you, enjoy the moment. Do not worry; we have handy paddles to scoop the butterfly up and set it back gently on the plants if they need a nudge. We also ask you to refrain from picking or touching the plants. The plants are extremely important for our butterflies and the Encounter environment.

Why are you so concerned about “hitchhiking” butterflies leaving the enclosure? What’s the big deal?

Tropical butterflies are heavily regulated by the USDA as they are non-native species and, if accidentally released, could cause serious damage with our local eco-system/agriculture. Have you ever heard of the gypsy moth? That is an example of a non-native species that was accidentally released, and look at all the havoc that it has caused over the years!

Why are there double doors with a separate entrance and exit?

We have double doors with a vestibule in between to prevent the release of any butterflies and to keep the temperature constant. There are even mirrors to double-check for any hitchhikers!

Can we take pictures or video in the Butterfly Encounter?

We encourage it! See if you can spot and capture a shot of our #ButterflyOfTheWeek. We would love to see your pictures. Please no camera stands, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, or camera bags.

May I bring my child’s stroller into the Butterfly Encounter?

Strollers are not allowed in the Butterfly Encounter. We have plenty of stroller “parking” directly outside the Butterfly Encounter. We encourage you to pack a front baby carrier.

Is the Butterfly Encounter handicapped accessible?

Yes, It is fully accessible to visitors in wheelchairs or other assistance devices such as walkers.

Educator Resources