Posted on March 18th, 2010 by .

Did you know that of all the animals identified on Earth 1 on 10 is a butterfly?

Yup ! I just found out myself while researching the subject of my next post: Butterflies Go Free.

What is Butterflies Go Free you may ask? A stunning activity presented by the Insectarium of Montreal. Think of 1500 butterflies from America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania, spreading their wings in the Main Exhibition Greenhouse of the Montreal Botanical Garden. Cheesy thing to do on vacation? I’d argue it’s quite an impressive show!

You are, after all, talking to a girl who’s been going since the very first edition…

As daughters of an agronomist, my sister and I have spent countless hours strolling through the greenhouses and outdoor gardens of the Botanical Garden.

Butterflies Go Free, or Papillons en Liberté, as we call it in French, has remained till this day, an activity that I look forward to every spring.

This year, for it’s 13th edition, the event is taking place under the theme of Biodiversity (2010 being the International Year of Biodiversity). This means that more than 90 species of butterflies will be presented and chances are you’ll be able to witness about 50 in one visit.

Watch a video of Butterflies Go Free

Since I’ve been brushing up on my butterfly knowledge  while writing this post, I thought I would share some of those fun butterfly facts with you. Ready? Here it goes.

  • Butterflies are generally more active in the morning, on sunny days and when there is a sudden change in atmospheric pressure.
  • Butterflies live one month, on average, with some major differences in life spans. Some don’t eat, meaning that they lead very short lives, just a few days to find a partner and mate. Others beat records for longevity, such as the monarch that fly all the way form Quebec to Mexico for the winter.
  • The biggest butterfly of this year’s event is the Attacus atlas cobra moth, one of the world’s biggest moths. It has a wingspan of 15 to 25 cm. (That’s huge!)
  • All caterpillars become butterflies.
  • Butterflies in Butterflies Go Free come from butterfly farms in 10 different countries.
  • Butterflies that reach the end of their lives during the event are recovered by the Insectarium for educational purposes. This year, living butterflies will be taken to the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, making the journey in small butterfly envelopes that protect their wings and enable them to conserve their energy.

Of course you can learn much more about butterflies by heading to the Botanical Garden and talking to one of the scientific educators present at the Main Exhibition Greenhouse.

You have till April 25 to get your butterfly (or Lepidoptera) on!

Ps. It’s humid! Straightening hair before going is not a good idea.

Butterflies Go Free

February 18 – April 25

Montreal Botanical Garden

4101 Sherbrooke East
Montreal, QC H1X 2B2
(514) 872-1400

Pix-IV Metro


  1. pashmina

    / Nov 11th

    Wow… what an amazing photo! I can’t believe that butterfly is so much bigger than that girls hand. And the tips of the wings seem to mimic a hawk’s beak or something like that.

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