Fly away to the Amazon at new butterfly exhibit
Thousands of tropical butterflies on display at Vancouver Aquarium
A banded orange heliconian, blue morpho and a doris longwing are among the 80 species of butterflies brought from Costa Rica to the Vancouver Aquarium for an exhibit that recreates a South American rainforest.
The last time a butterfly exhibit was featured at the aquarium was in 2014. After positive reviews and a growing demand from members and visitors, the aquarium decided to bring them back.
Until September, visitors will have a chance to view the life cycle of the butterflies from pupa — the stage when a caterpillar becomes a chrysalis — to adult stage.
Each week, 25-30 new species will arrive from a butterfly farm in Costa Rica.
Many of the butterflies found in Costa Rica range down to the Amazon rainforest.
Two new chambers have been built in the enclosure where aquarium visitors can view where the pupa transform into adult butterflies.
The metamorphosis of a butterfly consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The pupa stage, also known as the chrysalis stage, is when the larva transforms inside of a hard shell and emerges as an adult butterfly. The pupa stage can last from five to 21 days.
The diet of a butterfly consists of nectar and fruit that are readily available in the gallery enclosure. Ibises, sloths and tortoises co-exist with the butterflies to simulate their natural environment in the Amazon.
Although touching the sensitive insects is prohibited, many of the butterflies perching on branches and fruit stay still long enough for visitors to get an up close look at the beautiful patterns and vivid colours the butterflies use to blend into their surroundings.
The species of butterflies featured at the exhibit vary in size and colour, from the hand-sized blue morpho to the smaller golden heliconian
The lifespan of the adult butterflies ranges from a few days to a couple of weeks. With more than 600 to 800 individual butterflies arriving each month, there are many specimens available for viewing.