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Flying Colors

Rochel Burstyn

We’re in for a treat! Here we are, at Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, waiting to meet the butterfly conservatory curator and see all those gorgeous butterflies

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

mishpacha image


L ook! Someone’s waving… her name tag says “Cheryl Tyndall”; that’s who we’re meeting today.

Hi, Cheryl!

Hello, and welcome to the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

Thank you! What do you do as curator of the Butterfly Conservatory?

I oversee all the operations here. That includes the displays, interior plantscape, butterflies, what species are coming in and from where, and all the day-to-day maintenance involved in making sure the conservatory is ready for our visitors.

Any instructions before we go in?

Let’s start by seeing our introductory video, which provides some helpful tips. For example, did you know that when people touch a butterfly wings, the scales can get rubbed off? The loss of scales actually shortens a butterfly’s life span. So if you see a butterfly on the pathway, just put your finger under its front legs. That will urge it to fly away, or it might climb onto your hand, which is okay, too. Have a close look before you place it carefully on a leaf.

You also might notice that butterflies are choosing to land on you, and wonder why. Guess what! Those bright colors you’re wearing can be attractive to butterflies. It also seems like the blue-colored butterflies are attracted to the color blue, so if you’re wearing a blue shirt, they might come and check you out, probably to see if you’re one of their species.


Sometimes we have guests wearing a favorite baseball cap, and butterflies always seem to land right on the cap and make themselves comfortable. That’s because a favorite cap is often sweaty, and butterflies are attracted to the salt in the sweat. That’s also why they puddle on the stone or pathway, they’re looking for salt.

I hope they land on me! We’re ready. Please show us around.

It would be my pleasure. Let me tell you a little about this conservatory. It was first opened to the public in 1996 after it was designed by Baird Sampson Neuert (BSN), an architectural firm from Toronto. If you look around, you’ll see it’s a really neat, unique design. The actual dome is shaped like a chrysalis! You can’t really tell so much from inside, but you could from an aerial view.

The conservatory has 11,000 square feet of actual display with over 2,000 flying butterflies at any given time. There’s also an amazing collection of tropical plants, an 18-foot waterfall, and plenty of little streams. During construction, a lot of attention was paid to detail to make it so natural looking. We even had granite mined from Northern Ontario for the rocks that form the plant beds and the waterfalls. All this natural beauty makes you feel like you’re walking in a real rainforest. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Junior, Issue 661)

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