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Butterfly House in a Zoo

What is a Butterfly House

A butterfly house, often found nestled within the vibrant landscapes of European zoos, is a beautifully designed habitat that is dedicated to the conservation and protection of butterfly species. These habitats are usually indoor areas that have been carefully designed to replicate the ideal environment for butterflies, housing various plants and flowers as well as an abundance of other invertebrates and insects.

European Zoos that have Butterfly House

London Zoo, United Kingdom

The London Zoo boasts one of the most impressive butterfly houses in all of Europe. Home to a myriad of different butterfly species, the butterfly house is a colourful, enchanting space where visitors can see these beautiful creatures up close. From delicate Blue Morphos to striking Swallowtails, the diversity of species is astounding.

Artis Royal Zoo, Netherlands

Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam, Netherlands, features a butterfly house that is a sight to behold. Offering a tropical oasis in the heart of the city, the butterflies here fly freely amongst the visitors, landing softly on hands, heads, and hearts. This immersive experience brings visitors closer to nature and creates unforgettable memories.

Schmetterlinghaus, Austria

In Austria, the Schmetterlinghaus, or “Butterfly House”, is a must for butterfly enthusiasts. This historic greenhouse, located in the heart of Vienna, provides both local and exotic species a safe, warm environment. Walking into Schmetterlinghaus, visitors feel as though they’ve stepped into a tropical rainforest filled with fluttering butterflies.

Papiliorama Swiss Tropical Gardens, Switzerland

Papiliorama Swiss Tropical Gardens, located in Kerzers, Switzerland, is another European zoo with a notable butterfly house. This butterfly house mimics a tropical forest, providing the ideal environment for a variety of butterfly species. The vivid colours and varied patterns of the butterflies create a vibrant spectacle that visitors won’t soon forget.

Which European Zoo has the largest Butterfly House?

Mainau Island Butterfly House, Germany

Mainau Island Butterfly House in Germany is renowned for being the largest butterfly house in all of Europe. Nestled on the picturesque Lake Constance, this butterfly house provides a habitat for more than 120 different species of butterflies.

The butterfly house is an integral part of the Mainau Island’s lush landscape. It is a verdant oasis, teeming with a myriad of colourful flowers that serve as food for the butterflies. The atmosphere inside is kept humid and warm to mimic the tropical climates many of the butterfly species are accustomed to.

Visitors can observe the entire life cycle of butterflies, from the tiny eggs, to the transformation in the pupa, and finally the emergence of a fully-grown butterfly. It’s an immersive, educational experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the fascinating metamorphosis process.

Butterfly House at the Chester Zoo, United Kingdom

The Butterfly House at the Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom is another grand spectacle for butterfly lovers. Although not as large as the Mainau Island Butterfly House, it offers an unforgettable experience.

The butterfly house here is a tropical paradise filled with exotic plants and vibrantly coloured butterflies fluttering freely. Chester Zoo also offers a unique feature: a puparium, where visitors can witness the magical moment of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

These European zoos with their butterfly houses provide not just an enchanting experience for visitors, but also a safe haven for these delicate creatures. These butterfly houses play a significant role in educational outreach, conservation efforts, and in raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity.

What type of animals a Butterfly House has

Butterfly House Inhabitants

When you step into a butterfly house, you’re entering a world teeming with life. While the main attractions are undoubtedly the fluttering butterflies, they are not the only inhabitants.


The stars of any butterfly house are, of course, the butterflies themselves. These beautiful insects come in a range of sizes, shapes, and colours, each species more enchanting than the last. From the large and vibrant Blue Morpho to the smaller and delicately patterned Glasswing, visitors can marvel at these ethereal creatures fluttering about.


In many butterfly houses, night-flying moths can also be found. Though often overshadowed by their day-flying cousins, moths are equally fascinating. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and some species, like the Atlas Moth, have intricate patterns that rival those of any butterfly.


Before butterflies and moths become the creatures we admire, they start life as caterpillars. Many butterfly houses also exhibit these fascinating creatures, allowing visitors to observe the earlier stages of a butterfly’s life cycle. You may find a caterpillar munching on leaves, preparing for the next stage of its life.


Butterfly houses often showcase pupae, or the chrysalises, where the magic of metamorphosis occurs. Encased in these protective shells, caterpillars undergo a transformation to become butterflies. Some butterfly houses even allow visitors to witness the moment a butterfly emerges, a truly magical sight.

Other Insects and Animals

While not as common, some butterfly houses also host other insects and small animals. It’s not unusual to see an array of beetles, stick insects, and spiders. Some even have small birds and reptiles that coexist peacefully with the butterflies.

These diverse inhabitants make butterfly houses a captivating experience. They offer visitors a glimpse into the fascinating world of these creatures, promoting education, conservation, and a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature.

Butterfly House in a Zoo. A butterfly on a purple flower

What you should see in a Butterfly House

The Flora of a Butterfly House

The beauty and magic of a butterfly house extend beyond the fluttering inhabitants. The environment within a butterfly house is a key component of the experience. Lush, vibrant, and diverse, the vegetation inside a butterfly house is carefully chosen and maintained to support the needs of the butterflies.

Nectar Plants

One essential element of the flora within the butterfly house is nectar plants. These flowering plants provide the primary food source for adult butterflies. You’ll encounter a colourful array of blooms, from bright sunflowers and marigolds to dainty lavender and fuchsia.

Host Plants

Another critical type of plant found in butterfly houses is host plants. These are the plants on which female butterflies lay their eggs and that caterpillars feed on after hatching. Host plants can include a variety of trees, shrubs, and herbs, each specific to different species of butterfly.

Tropical Foliage

Most butterfly houses are designed to mimic tropical environments, given the majority of butterfly species are tropical. As you wander through, you’ll be surrounded by the lush greenery of ferns, vines, and palms, contributing to the immersive, jungle-like atmosphere.

Butterfly House Activities

A visit to a butterfly house is not just a visual treat but can also be an interactive and educational adventure. Here’s what you can expect.

Butterfly Feeding

Some butterfly houses offer visitors the chance to feed butterflies. Holding a small sponge soaked in sweet nectar, you can experience butterflies landing on your hand to drink, providing a delightful close-up view of these enchanting insects.

Guided Tours

Many butterfly houses provide guided tours. These tours are a fantastic opportunity to learn more about butterfly species, their lifecycle, their role in the ecosystem, and the conservation efforts being made to protect them.


Butterfly houses are a photographer’s paradise, filled with vibrant plants and colourful butterflies. Whether you’re a professional with a DSLR or an enthusiast with a smartphone, you’ll leave with some stunning shots.

A visit to a butterfly house offers a unique, enchanted journey into the world of these beautiful creatures. With each visit, you’ll leave with a renewed appreciation for the delicate balance of nature and the importance of conservation efforts to preserve these spectacular species.

What is the environment in a Butterfly House

Temperature and Humidity in a Butterfly House

The environment inside a butterfly house is meticulously maintained to mimic the natural habitats of butterflies. A notable aspect of this environment is the temperature and humidity. As many butterflies hail from tropical climates, the indoor temperature of a butterfly house is typically kept warm, hovering between 23 to 28°C. The humidity level is also maintained at a high level, often between 75% and 85%. This tropical climate encourages butterflies to be active and is necessary for their survival in this man-made setting.

Light Conditions in a Butterfly House

Light is another crucial element in a butterfly house. Butterflies require ample light for their activities. The houses are structured to allow natural light to bathe the interior, enhancing the vibrant colours of both the butterflies and the wide variety of plants. Some butterfly houses also use artificial lighting, especially for exhibits featuring nocturnal insects like moths, ensuring their activities can be observed by visitors.

Water and Feeding Stations in a Butterfly House

Within the butterfly house, you may notice small dishes or patches soaked in water. These are ‘puddling’ stations where butterflies often gather to sip minerals from the water, an essential part of their diet. Additionally, feeding stations are dispersed throughout the butterfly house, usually offering sweet nectar or ripe fruits to attract butterflies, providing visitors with excellent viewing and photography opportunities.

Signage and Information Boards in a Butterfly House

Educational signage and information boards form an integral part of the butterfly house environment. These sources of information provide visitors with fascinating insights into the life cycle of butterflies, their food preferences, migration patterns, and much more. These boards often contain images, making them engaging and easy to understand for visitors of all ages.

Visiting a butterfly house is an immersive experience, taking you into a world that mirrors the warm, humid, and richly biodiverse environments where butterflies naturally thrive. It’s a carefully crafted space that not only showcases the beauty of these creatures but also educates visitors on their fascinating existence and the need for their conservation.

lepidopterarium butterfly on a flower

Is Butterfly House a safe environment for the animals?

Safety Measures for the Butterflies

Butterfly houses go to great lengths to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their delicate inhabitants. This involves a range of measures, from careful selection of plants to specialised veterinary care. The butterflies are provided with a diet that matches their natural intake, and the butterfly house is kept free of predators. Regular health check-ups for the butterflies are conducted by qualified professionals who monitor their growth, lifespan, and reproduction to ensure they are thriving within the butterfly house.

Physical Structures for Butterfly Safety

The physical structures within a butterfly house are also designed with the safety of butterflies in mind. The interior is often spacious with high ceilings to allow butterflies to fly freely. The glass used in the construction is typically ultraviolet (UV) treated. This is vital as butterflies can see UV light, which helps them avoid colliding with the glass. Netting is also used in some areas to protect butterflies from rough weather conditions and potential predators.

Butterflies and Visitors

In terms of visitor interaction, rules are in place to ensure the safety of the butterflies. Visitors are generally advised not to touch the butterflies, as their wings are delicate and can easily be damaged. Feeding activities are usually supervised by staff to ensure that the butterflies are not harmed. Guided tours and educational sessions inform visitors of the best practices when navigating through a butterfly house.

Staff Training and Expertise

Staff at butterfly houses are well-trained in handling and caring for butterflies. They are equipped with knowledge about different butterfly species, their needs, life cycles, and potential threats. Staff also monitor visitor behaviour to prevent any accidental harm to the butterflies from inappropriate handling or feeding.

Overall, butterfly houses prioritize the safety and wellbeing of their butterflies, creating an environment that closely replicates their natural habitat. While offering visitors a chance to experience the magic of these creatures up close, they also emphasise the importance of conservation and respect towards these magnificent insects.

Further Research

Further References

For those interested in delving deeper into the world of butterfly houses and their conservation efforts, here are some online resources and articles:

  1. “Creating a Butterfly House and Butterfly Zoo: An Introduction by Nigel Venters” – This article provides an in-depth guide on the intricacies of establishing a butterfly house, including catering to the unique needs of butterflies.
  2. “Butterfly House: An Overview by Smithsonian Institution” – This web page offers a concise summary of the butterfly house at the Smithsonian Institution, giving readers a glimpse into the day-to-day operations of a butterfly house.
  3. “The Role of Zoos in Conservation: Butterflies” – An informative article by the Zoological Society of London on the role of zoos and butterfly houses in the conservation efforts for butterflies.
  4. “Butterflies in the Glasshouse at RHS Garden Wisley” – This feature showcases the butterfly house at RHS Garden Wisley, detailing the varieties of butterflies housed and the conditions maintained for their survival.

These resources provide valuable information, enhancing our understanding of the loving care and meticulous attention to detail that goes into creating and maintaining a butterfly house, and underlining the importance of conservation initiatives geared towards these beguiling creatures.