Thursday, January 7, 2010

Butterfly Pavilion Inside my House

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In Florida the night temperatures have gone below freezing! The water inside our bird bath froze solid and my plants have suffered damage even though I covered them in blankets. Because of our weather these past days, I am unable to release my emerged butterflies outside. Instead I released my three Gulf Fritillaries inside and turned our house into a butterfly pavilion!


To keep my butterfly guests happy, we brought in potted Penta flowers and moistened a paper towel with tropical punch that is high in sugar. To keep the butterflies warm, I moved them to my room by the window and brought in a portable heater.  They were most interested in the bright light fixture up on the ceiling. Their behavior was similar to moths who are drawn to bright lights.


The butterflies opened their wings to absorb the heat. The rays of light illuminated their wings. In this angled picture you can see the fuzz that is located near the abdomen and thorax. These “hairs” are actually tiny scales stacked on one another and can easily rub off on a finger or other object.


My brother, Joshua and the Gulf Fritillary butterflies soon became friends. These three butterflies are becoming part of the family. One Gulf Fritillary has decided it wants to help me video butterflies emerging from their chrysalises. That could be a problem though because it is too light to push the record button!


Butterflies can’t close their eyes to sleep, so at night they find a place where they hang and rest until the morning sun warms them up again. This period of inactiveness can happen not only during the night, but also when it is cloudy or raining. Butterflies find a hidden spot like under a tree or leaf to rest. The butterflies inside my room chose a curtain to rest on. They did a pretty good job of hiding because my brother who is known as Detective Joshua could not find them! I gave him a hint and he finally spotted them.

During these few days of keeping my butterflies inside the house, I have had the time to closely observe their behaviors. I normally release my butterflies out in our back yard, but because of the temperatures outside it is more humane to keep them in the heated house. When the weather improves, I will release my butterfly guests. For now I have the pleasure of observing them.

Five more days until my Costa Rica tour! You can follow my tour on my blog and on twitter. 


  1. That is soooo cool, Elizabeth. My daughter will be extremely jealous of your indoor butterfly world, and will beg me to let her do the same. By the sound of the weather forecast, they may be with you for awhile. Enjoy them!

  2. Thanks for your help Elizabeth! We live in Florida too and recently had a butterfly emerge but didn't know what to do about letting it go. I guess we'll be keeping it indoors for a while longer until it warms up. Thanks for the info. Great blog!