By Joanne Reid
Up by Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, just a 25-minute drive from downtown Victoria, blossoms a garden of up to 70 species of tropical butterflies and more than 200 varieties of tropical plants in a very humid rainforest environment. These butterflies — or, as my daughter more appropriately termed them, “flutter-byes” — adorn the air and leaves of this tropical paradise. Among the species you will find are the Postman butterfly from Costa Rica, the White Tree Nymph from the Philippines, and the dazzling Blue Morph, with its iridescent blue wings, also from Costa Rica. The White Tree Nymph is the only butterfly in the gardens to feed on the Pink Chenille plant. Some of the other intriguing varieties of vegetation include the Tropical Pitcher Plant (my favorite, actually) and the Sky Clock Vine.
In one corner of the garden is a collection of pupae. Here lies the story of the metamorphosis of these beautiful creatures. The eggs hatch open to deliver tiny caterpillars that will hunt down food in their environment until fully grown. At that point they enclose themselves within a chrysalis (pupa), igniting the magic that will deliver them as beautifully-formed butterflies. This process varies in length by species, but most emerge in less than 30 days. To this day I am overcome by the transformation of these creatures.
Although Victoria Butterfly Gardens is small in size and can be toured in an hour, you may wish to stay longer, wandering the pathways that will bring you to ponds filled with koi, tortoises, frogs, and tropical birds including the peaceful and elegant flamingos.
The newest exhibit in the garden is the Insectarium. “Our favorite here is the leaf cutter ants from Central and South America,” but “kids love the giant scorpions and tarantulas,” explains Justin of the garden staff.
Visit www.butterflygardens.com for hours, admission rates, and directions.
Open all year with the exception of Christmas Day
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