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A Trip To The Butterfly Gardens

close up of Giant Owl Butterfly

Ever heard of the term under-promise, over-deliver? Well, that’s a great way to describe the Victoria Butterfly Gardens; this wonderful mini oasis has more to offer than just butterflies.

The Victoria Butterfly Gardens provides an escape from winter. Offering a wide variety of exotic wildlife in an indoor tropical setting, where you can walk amongst various tropical animals. 

What is The Butterfly Gardens?

koi pond

The Victoria Butterfly Gardens is a place that provides a unique experience for guests to encounter and learn about some of the world’s most interesting bugs, birds, and other critters. 

There are two sections to the butterfly gardens: 

  1. The Insectarium: This is an exhibit that is visible when you first walk into the building. The exhibit is a group of enclosures that contain a variety of different insects and invertebrates. Guests can view all the critters up close and learn about them with the provided write-up on each enclosure. 
  2. The Tropical Rainforest: (Where the butterflies are) This is an immersive jungle experience where guests can walk amongst insects, birds, reptiles, and more. For the most part, all the animals run wild with minimal enclosures.

The Experience

Let’s have a look at my experience at the Butterfly Gardens. 

The Insectarium (not just insects)
hermit crab

The first part of the butterfly garden exhibit is the Insectarium. This is a section beside the front desk that has a bunch of tall enclosures, each housing different types of critters. 

Some highlights of this area for me were: 

Leaf cutter ants: I had never seen them before, they were in a large enclosure all puttering away with their leaves in tow. 

Stick bugs: It was fun trying to decipher what was a stick and what was a bug.

Scorpions: I was surprised at how small these were, and they glow under UV light!

This entire area is quite small, I probably looked at every enclosure in about 15 minutes, it was a fun little preamble before heading to the main butterfly gardens. I appreciated that each enclosure had a blurb about its resident, so I could learn about each creature I was looking at. 

There were many more bugs and invertebrates in this section, but you will just have to see for yourself what they are.

The Tropical Rainforest (AKA The Butterfly Gardens)
butterflies feeding

The first thing I noticed about this area, was the heat. It was so hot, I immediately had to take my jacket and sweater off. Which was honestly a nice feeling, it felt like I was suddenly hit by summer or that I had just arrived at a tropical destination. 

The next thing I noticed was how big and beautiful this place was. The Tropical Rainforest is like a high ceiling sun room, filled with tropical plants, water falls, a creek, bridges, and so many animals. It truly looked and felt like a jungle.

Next I noticed the sounds, it was filled with the song of very happy birds: macaws, african greys, finches, and other various parrots. As well as the sound of the waterfalls and the creek. 

Just by stepping in to the place, I was overcome with how pleasant it was.

And of course, there were the butterflies. Everywhere I turned, there were multiple butterflies. Flying, resting, eating, living. They seemed very happy and unbothered by people. 

The Tropical Rainforest layout is a circle with a couple of pathways to different highlights. Some highlights of the rainforest include: the flamingo pond, carnivorous plants, and green wing macaws. Each highlight is marked with a number, and there are 17 in total.  

This rainforest is saturated with fascinating things to look at, so I walked the circle three times in order to take it all in! Some highlights for me were: 

Koi pond: the koi fish were huge! 

Poison dart frogs: These were one of the few animals that were in an enclosure. They were so bright and beautiful. Side note: poison dart frogs are only poisonous due to their diet in the wild, they are not poisonous in captivity.

Pitcher plants: these are large carnivorous plants that trap bugs in their pitcher-like stalks.

Butterfly Interactions
tailed jay butterfly on a leaf

At the butterfly gardens, many people hope that a butterfly lands on them. It’s so nice to see a kid’s face light up when a butterfly decides they would make a nice resting place. It’s certainly a highlight, but it doesn’t happen for everyone, sometimes butterflies want to land on a flower instead. 

So did a butterfly land on me? Yes! I was pointing out a pretty finch to my friend and a butterfly landed on my hand! I guess I made a good perch at that moment. Another butterfly landed on my friend, my other three friends were not graced by a butterfly. So 2 out of 5 were chosen to be butterfly perches, I think we did pretty good! 

Etiquette

Here are some helpful etiquette tips to think about when you visit the gardens.

Watch where you step: The downside to walking around in an open-concept enclosure is it means there are critters on the walkway. I was sad to see some butterflies that had been stepped on. Please mind where you step. 

Don’t Rush: I know it’s very exciting in there, but you can walk the circle many times (I sure did!), so no need to rush. There are many animals that fly freely including birds and butterflies, and they have no problem flying close to their guests, walk slow to avoid any collision. 

Don’t touch: do not touch the animals, but rather, let them come to you! The butterflies are known to land on people, if you are patient and still, they may land on you. 

Follow the arrows: Guests are asked to walk the butterfly gardens in a clockwise circle, please look to the ground to find the guidance arrows. 

Know Before You Go/ Tips

two macaws on perches

Prepare for heat: It will be HOT in the tropical rainforest, so plan your outfit accordingly. I suggest you leave your jacket in the car or bring a backpack to put your jacket and sweater into. 

In the military?: Ask about the military discount at the front desk to have a portion of your admission reimbursed.

Get the butterfly gardens map: Either ask for a map at the front desk, or to save on paper – open a map up here. That way you will not miss all the special highlights.

Want some extra fun? Play the scavenger hunt! The butterfly gardens provide a scavenger hunt list on their site. You can find it here

Walk the circle multiple times: Because you will likely miss many things the first time through! 

Conclusion

butterfly gardens entrance

The Butterfly Gardens is a wonderful way to escape the winter and view some fascinating wildlife that you wouldn’t otherwise see here in B.C. I can’t possibly describe my entire experience in this tiny blog post, so I suggest you go out and experience it. I can’t wait to go back! 

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