As a sign that spring is truly around the corner, every year for the past 15 years in Montreal the Botanical Gardens (right near the Olympic Stadium) hosts Butterflies Go Free. Within a special greenhouse thousands of butterflies and moths of all colours and many varieties fly around uninhibited so we can get a chance to see these beautiful creatures up close and personal. If you stand very still and are lucky (wear red and you will up your chances as butterflies are said to be attracted to the colour red) a butterfly or two might decide to land on you for a spell.
Biodiversity is a word often used today. In simple terms it means the number of habitats within a specific area as well as species that live in a certain area along with the genetic variation that exists amidst the different species. Butterflies Go Free allows us the chance to really learn about biodiversity through seeing it firsthand in a contained area.
The Botanical Garden’s Main Greenhouse was a hotspot this past sunny, but cool Sunday. It was the second-to-last weekend for the exhibit so plenty of people were there. The ticket line was long and there was about a 45 delay before you got into the butterflies greenhouse. That does not mean that you were just standing there waiting as they very wisely send you through a couple of greenhouses containing all sorts of different fauna including cacti and bonsai trees. The line moved slowly, but surely.
When you finally got to the door of the Main Greenhouse your anticipation had built. Upon entering it was immediate reward. Right around the entrance there were a bunch of butterflies of several colours. One decided to land on my brother’s (who was wearing a red jacket) right shoulder much to the delight of the 7 kids we had with us. From that point on it was a competition to see who was lucky enough to get a butterfly land on them. I have to say in that respect it was largely a success as 6 out of 7 kids had a butterfly or two land on them. Each time it happened we gathered around that kid and took pictures of the butterflies and their smiling faces.
Two of the kids we had with us we just around 2-years-old and they were mesmerized by what they were seeing. Especially one who is a big fan of butterflies. They were both very respectful of the fact that despite the fact that they really, really wanted to they could not touch the beautiful, but fragile butterflies.
The stars of this year’s exhibit were the monarch butterflies. These orange and very occasionally white butterflies are very well known to Montrealers as these guys make the trip back and forth from our area to Mexico every spring and fall. They were in abundance at this year’s Butterflies Go Free with their distinctive orange and black pattern everywhere you looked.
Besides the monarchs there are over 75 species of butterflies and moths at this year’s exhibit. Most of the butterflies are brought in from farms around the world. Just inside the door you can find a pamphlet that identifies and names each of the species you might see.
Around the exhibit there were cocoon, egg and caterpillar shaped hanging seats that kids could get into and parents could take pictures of. Within the exhibit there are also animators that will give little presentations chock full of information about butterflies and their habits.
It is a great family outing. Every age can get swept up in the beauty of these creatures. You can watch those flitting wings and beautiful colours for hours.