The life cycle of a butterfly here at The Leaf begins at a butterfly farm in Costa Rica.
When the caterpillars reach the chrysalis stage, they are meticulously packaged and transported through the USA to the Park in Winnipeg. There are processes are in place, such as certifications and permits, to ensure that the butterflies travel safely from the Costa Rican butterfly farm to us in Winnipeg!
We have a fantastic partnership with the butterfly farm as we can not only inspire members of the public that join us here at The Leaf but all proceeds from the butterfly farm are used for wild butterfly conservation efforts locally in Costa Rica.
Unpacking the chrysalises
Our team checks each individual
Once the butterflies arrive here at the Park, it is all hands on deck!
Our team checks each box, making sure no undesired insects have tagged along for the ride. They also make sure that the correct butterflies have been sent to us and that each animal is healthy.
Connected to each chrysalis, is a piece of silk or foam that our team uses to pin the chrysalis up in the Emergence chamber. This chamber is a sealed glass box kept at a specific temperature and humidity level that provides the proper conditions for the emergence of the tropical butterflies we receive, increasing the likelihood and success rate of emergence.
Inside the emergence chamber, the chrysalises are positioned in a way that the butterflies emerge upside down. This allows for gravity to aid in stretching the wings and helping them form properly so they can fly, emulating what the butterflies would experience naturally in the wild by hanging off a plant or tree. Throughout the next few days, the butterflies will begin to emerge from their chrysalises.
Pinning the chrysalises
Removing the individual chrysalises from the boxes
Our conservation and research team is also involved with the process of butterfly emergence. This team has extensive experience working with two species of prairie butterflies, the Dakota Skipper and the Poweshiek Skipperling. We can use their skills collectively with our animal care team to learn more about the efficiency of emergence within the chambers. This program is still very new, and we are adapting to the needs of the variety of butterfly species we are receiving. We are working to identify the optimal environmental conditions here at The Leaf for the different species to emerge.
Once in the butterfly stage, they are given some time for their wings to dry out in the chamber and then released by our animal care team into the butterfly biomes. The controlled environment contains the specific humidity levels and temperature required for these butterfly species to survive and thrive.
Chrysalises in the emergence chamber
Butterflies are released into the biome
The beauty of butterflies can be truly awe-inspiring, and we hope that the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden experience can inspire you to take action to protect these delicate creatures.
By recognizing the important role that butterflies play in our ecosystems and taking steps to create hospitable environments for them, we can help to ensure that they continue to thrive for generations to come. Whether it's planting native flowers, reducing pesticide use, or simply spreading awareness, each of us can make a difference in protecting these beautiful and important pollinators.