Butterflies shipments are received weekly so there are always
many varieties to see. We also have an emergence cage where
the butterfly pupa is displayed for your viewing. See how we
receive our shipments through the window
in our lab room.
A butterfly's structure may seem unusual, but it makes perfect
sense for the butterfly. Butterflies taste with their feet,
smell with their antennae, and use their proboscis for tasting.
( like a straw) The most beautiful thing one notices about
a butterfly is its striking color.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive
at Wings of Mackinac.
What is Lepidoptera? (Latin
lepid scale + Greek pteron wing) The formal
definition is an order of insects with broad wings which
have minute overlapping scales, usually brightly colored. This
order includes butterflies and moths. Here are some more features
4 large wings
scales on the wings
sucking mouthparts ( some species do not eat as adults)
What is the difference between butterflies
| Antennae is clubbed or hooked
||Antennae is feathery.
|Usually active during the day. Some are active at dawn
or dusk rather then during the warmer part of the day.
||Most moths are active at night.
|Most butterflies are brightly colored.
||Most moths are brownish and dull in color.
|Bodies are usually smooth and slender
||Bodies are thicker and furry looking.
|Butterflies pupate in a chrysalis.
||Moth pupa is enclosed within a silken cocoon. Some moths
incorporate leaves into the cocoon. Some moth caterpillars
bury themselves in the soil.
|Wings do not hook together.
||Forewing and hindwing are coupled with a hook.
|When basking in the sun butterfly wings are outstretched,
but are vertical over body at rest in the evening.
||Wings are held horizontally in most moths.
What's on the menu at the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory?
We serve fresh hummingbird nectar or sugar water made daily. The butterflies also feed off the flowers, Penta and Lantana. These two flowers are a good nectar source for most butterflies. There is plenty of water for them to drink along with rotten bananas that seem to be a favorite of the Blue Morphos.
How many butterflies are there in the conservatory?
Our first shipment of 2000 butterflies are shipped the end of April. Hundreds are then shipped every week starting the first of May until we close the middle of October. Species we receive have different
lifespans and different seasons.
How many different butterfly species do you have?
Our permit allows us to have over 300 species, but this
varies throughout the season. Some species appear in the spring
and again in the fall. At any given time we have around 75-150
species in the conservatory.
What do the butterflies do in the winter?
Butterflies have a very short lifespan, some as short as 3-10
days! Near the end of the season we stop ordering butterflies
and lose the remaining ones when they come to the end of their
life cycle. We are closed in the winter months.
Covering the pupa to protect them from predators and the possibility of falling from the trees.
Collecting the pupa in Costa Rica. All of our butterfly species are raised on butterfly farms.
They are not caught in the wild.
Large collection on the farm of Blue Morphos raised in Costa Rica.
They will be shipped to the different conservatories, museums and science centers.
Great Egg Fly enjoying the sun
Monarch just hanging out