Wings of Paradise (Butterfly Conservatory)

wings_butter2As adults, we aren’t privy to many surprises… not enough good ones, anyhow! Also, I really do feel that it’s such a shame that we don’t let ourselves just get overwhelmed with excitement and giddiness like when we were kids. So, when Rob said that he had a ‘surprise place’ planned out for us to visit… I surrendered to my inner-child and was so excited! That being said, I probably drove Rob nuts along the way guessing and then claiming that I didn’t want to know and then deciding I wanted to guess some more.

Almost an hour later, we pulled into the parking lot of the Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge , Ontario . Upon entering the building, I notice that there was a very special (if not icky) event going on—a Bug Feast. Yes, your imagination is correct— a chef has basted, marinated, souped-up, and toasted a variety of bugs for people to savour. What a surprise indeed! We decide to pay the modest $8.50 entry fee to view the butterflies (archived and live) and an array of other insects before venturing back to the bug feast.

Wings of Paradise – waterfall
The Conservatory offers many different galleries for visitors to explore. We start our tour in the archive room—essentially a mini-museum of butterflies from around the world. It’s just amazing to see the beautiful and unique wing patterns and their ability to camouflage themselves so well with their surroundings. Next, we visit the live insectarium gallery that was home to a bee hive and insects such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas and giant African Millipedes! At last, we arrive at the butterfly “greenhouse.” As soon as you walk through the doors, you’ll feel like you’re in a tropical forest!

Wings of Paradise has tropical butterflies from Costa Rica to the Philippines . Thousands of butterflies fluttered about freely, enjoying the bowls of fruit that have been laid out for them to enjoy. They have waterfalls and a copious amount of tropical foliage and flowers in their environment as well. The conservatory has its own built-in housekeepers too—little Chinese painted quail walk about the greenhouse munching up the bodies of butterflies that have passed away. Unfortunately, they only eat the bodies, so you will see a fair amount of butterfly wings in the gardens.

One of the highlights of our visit was stopping by the Emergence Window. Essentially, this section of the conservatory provides visitors with a view of the rearing, metamorphosis and emergence parts of the butterfly’s life cycle. We really lucked out and got to see a butterfly emerge from its cocoon!

Finally, we venture back to the Bug Feast and Rob is feeling particularly brave and excited to try out something very new. Unfortunately, we hadn’t

Wings of Paradise – hatchery
Wings of Paradise – butterfly eating bird
noticed that the bug feast was set to close before the conservatory and the bug feast was already all packed up for the day. Of course, I felt relieved but I really do believe that Rob was truly disappointed.
The Butterfly Conservatory (aka Wings of Paradise) has a great little gift shop that’s full of beautiful gifts sure to please any nature-loving family member and a cafeteria to grab a drink or snack in after or during your visit. The conservatory is also very popular with wedding parties—either for photo shoots or for complete ceremony and reception packages. Also, you can enroll your child in one of their week-long summer camps or organize a really cool birthday party at the conservatory!