Olbrich Home Rooted and Growing

Butterfly Fact Sheet

Q. Where do the butterflies come from?
A. All of the butterflies are bred in captivity on butterfly farms in the United States, mainly Florida. They're shipped to Olbrich by overnight express! None of them are collected from the wild.

Q. How are the butterflies released into the Conservatory?
A. All butterflies are sent to Olbrich in the chrysalis stage. They are then carefully hung inside a hatchery box in the Conservatory. Visitors can see them emerge into beautiful adult winged butterflies through a hatchery window, and then staff and specially trained volunteers assist the butterflies to fly free into the Conservatory.

Q. What do the butterflies eat in the Conservatory?
A. Certain flowering plants are known to be rich sources of nourishing nectar and pollen for butterflies. Those plants are placed in various areas inside the Conservatory, along with sugar water feeders and fresh fruit for supplemental nourishment.

Q. Are the butterflies safe from the Conservatory's circulating fans and resident birds?
A. The Conservatory fans are covered by fine nylon mesh, which keeps wandering butterflies from entering the blades. The Conservatory's birds are seedeaters and don't have any interest in the butterflies as a food source.

Q. What do you do with the butterflies when the exhibit is over?
A. The life span of different butterflies varies from a few weeks to a few months. All flying butterflies are allowed to live out their lives in the Conservatory, with food sources remaining after the exhibit dates.

Q. Are the butterflies native to tropical regions like the plants in the Conservatory?
A. All butterfly species for this event are native to the continental United States. Some are found outdoors in Wisconsin, while others are native to places as far away as the Rio Grand Valley of south Texas and subtropical south Florida.

Q. Are there any changes in the Conservatory environment for this event?
A. Temperature and humidity won't change from the norms. Temperatures inside the Conservatory are in the 80s and low 90s during the summer, with humidity levels about 60-percent at all times. These conditions are ideal for the health of the butterflies.

Q. Can visitors hold the butterflies?
A. Flight for butterflies often seems to be effortless, but they do need to rest on occasion. If you're very still, it's possible that one may decide to use you as a convenient park bench. Just hold still and don't touch! Butterfly wings are made up of delicate scales. Touching the wings damages the scales and makes it harder for the butterfly to fly, so it's best to just enjoy these magnificent insects with the eyes only!

Q. When are the butterflies most active?
A. Warm temperatures and sunshine promote the most flight activity. The Conservatory is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Olbrich's Blooming Butterflies. This time should be ideal for viewing these beautiful creatures as they glide through the buoyant Conservatory air.


Rhapsody in Bloom | June 16

Summer Concert Series | Tuesdays, June 19 - August 14

Home Garden Tour | July 13 & 14

Blooming Butterflies | July 19 - August 12

Guided Garden Strolls | Sundays, May 6 - Oct. 14

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is operated as a public-private partnership between the City of Madison Parks Division and the Olbrich Botanical Society.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens | 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI 53704. | Phone: (608)246-4550 | Fax: (608)246-4719