Molbak's Butterfly Garden opened May 27 at Woodland Park Zoo
Butterflies are back! Don't miss Molbak's Butterfly Garden at Woodland Park Zoo. It's now open through Labor Day.
Molbak’s Butterfly Garden offers a magical experience where guests can experience the wondrous world of “flying flowers” while strolling inside an enclosed space teeming with colorful and aromatic blooming flowers. Here, guests can learn about the life cycle of these important pollinators while watching new butterflies emerge from chrysalises before flying freely in the garden.
Butterflies are remarkable for many reasons.
Butterfly wings are transparent.
The wings of a butterfly are covered in a multitude of miniature scales –. And those colors you see are the reflection of various colors through the scales. The wings themselves are made up of a protein called chitin, which is the same protein that forms an insect’s exoskeleton.
There are almost 20,000 butterfly species.
Those species regularly occurring in the lower 48 states of the US however number around 575,
Butterflies use their feet to taste.
A butterfly’s daily activities consist of eating and mating, both of which require landing – even if it is only briefly. When food is the priority, those taste receptors help the butterfly locate the right plants and the key nutrients it needs for survival.
Butterflies only live for a few weeks.
The average lifespan of an adult butterfly is roughly three to four weeks, however, the entire life cycle can last anywhere between two and eight months. At least one species of butterfly lives for approximately 24 hours, while some migratory butterflies, like the North American Monarch, can survive for nearly eight months.
The most common butterfly in the US is the Cabbage White.
Named for its mostly white marking, when hints of yellow and green like the vegetable, the Cabbage White may not be the most colorful butterfly in your garden or yard, but it is the most common. The male Cabbage White has one prominent black spot on each wing, while the female has two.
Some butterfly species migrate from the cold.
Although in many cases cold weather will end the already short life of a butterfly by rendering them immobile, others take the dropping temperature as a signal to move. Butterflies are cold-blooded and require – in ideal settings – a body temperature of approximately 85 degrees to activate their flight muscles. If the weather begins changing some species simply migrate in search of sunshine. Some, like the North American Monarch, travel an average of 2,500 miles to a site in Mexico where they mate and the process starts over.
Butterflies have a liquid diet.
Butterfly food is exclusively liquid. Using their proboscis, which functions in the same way you or I might use a straw, butterflies drink nectar or some other variation of liquid sustenance.
Butterfly wings help them against predators.
Staying alive for as long as possible allows the butterfly additional opportunities to mate, and continuing the existence of its species is of utmost importance. Therefore, butterflies frequently use their wings as a defense mechanism. Either by folding to blend in with their surroundings, or wearing a full spectrum of colors and patterns to frighten predators, a butterfly’s wings are often their best protection.
Butterflies actually have four wings, not two.
Despite how they may appear in motion, or in drawings or paintings you may have seen, butterflies have four separate wings. The wings closest to its head are called the forewings, while those in the rear are called the hindwings. Thanks to strong muscles in the butterfly’s thorax, all four wings move up and down in a figure-eight pattern during flight.
Behind Molbak’s Butterfly Garden is the year-round Microsoft Pollinator Patio, a glorious garden complete with ideas and actions to take on behalf of native pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, bees and flies. Join Woodland Park Zoo’s pollinator journey and the growing movement to protect and conserve habitat for pollinators across the Northwest: www.zoo.org/nw/pollinators.
Molbak’s Butterfly Garden will open to the public Friday, May 27 through Monday, September 5, 9:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m. daily Summer hours: 9:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m. daily
Accessibility: Information about accessibility and resources, one-to-one aides, sighted guides, mobility equipment rentals, and a sensory map and tools, can be found at www.zoo.org/access. For questions or to request disability accommodations for zoo programs or events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or to become a zoo member, visit www.zoo.org or call 206.548.2500. Follow the zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.