About Our Butterflies

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.

Butterfly shipments are received weekly, and there are always many varieties to see. We have an emergence room where the butterfly pupa is displayed for viewing.

Butterflies taste with their feet, they smell with their antennae, and they use their proboscis for sipping like through a straw.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive at Wings of Mackinac.

What is the Difference Between Butterflies and Moths?


  • Antennae is clubbed or hooked.
  • Usually active during the day. Some are active at dawn or dusk rather then during the warmer part of the day.
  • Most butterflies are brightly colored.
  • Bodies are usually smooth and slender.
  • Butterflies pupate in a chrysalis.
  • Wings do not hook together.
  • When basking in the the sun, a butterfly’s wings are outstretched. In the evening, they lay vertical over their body.


  • Antennae is feathery.
  • Most moths are active at night.
  • Most moths are brownish and dull in color.
  • Bodies are thicker and furry looking.
  • Moth pupa is enclosed within a silken cocoon. Some moths incorporate leaves into the cocoon. Some moth caterpillars bury themselves in the soil.
  • Forewing and hindwing are coupled with a hook.
  • Wings are held horizontally in most moths.

What Do Butterflies Eat?

We serve fresh nectar daily. The butterflies also feed off the flowers, including Penta and Lantana. These two flowers are a good source for most butterflies. There is plenty of water for them to drink, and shade for shelter. (The Blue Morphos also seem to love rotten bananas!).

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?

During the season, we can have up to 300 species. Some appear in the spring and again in the fall. At any given time we have around 75-100 different kinds of butterflies in the conservatory.

What Do The Butterflies Do In The Winter?

Butterflies have a surprisingly short lifespan, on average between three and ten days. Near the end of the season, we stop ordering more and enjoy the remaining ones as they come to the end of their life.

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 of lepidoptera:

  • Four large wings
  • Scales on the wings
  • Complete metamorphosis
Wings of Mackinac

Covering the pupa to protect them from predators and the possibility of falling from the trees.

Wings of Mackinac

Collecting the pupa in Costa Rica. All of our butterfly species are raised on butterfly farms. They are not caught in the wild.

Wings of Mackinac

Large collection on the farm of Blue Morphos raised in Costa Rica. They will be shipped to the different conservatories, museums and science centers.

Wings of Mackinac

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. – Rabindranath Tagore

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