1) Meet Cheecho!
Cheecho is our beloved Green-Cheeked Conure! He is the type of bird that you look at but don’t touch, so ask one of our Nature Interpreters for a meet-and-greet! Cheecho can do tricks and loves to be rewarded with tiny bits of walnut. Most of the time he’s hanging out on his perch, but he is known to go on epic adventures into the greenhouse canopies from time to time. He also has some friends in our Administrative Office, so sometimes he’s taking a letter (or tearing one up) on someone’s desk!
2) Take a Break in the Café
We’re really excited about our café because it’s just gone through a fantastic metamorphosis! With a complete redecoration, a snazzy new name, and a delicious new menu for the summer, Chrysalis Café is a great spot to relax for lunch or a snack. We’re always serving up sustainably-farmed coffee – hot or cold – whatever suits!
3) Check out the Observation Beehive
Honey bees are one of the most fascinating insects on the planet. They’ve been around for more than 30 million years, and they’re super important to the environment because they’re pollinators! The number of bees in our colony fluctuates between 20,000 – 60,000 bees, but there’s only ONE queen! Ours is marked with a small green dot on her abdomen – see if you can find her!
4) Spend Some Time in Front of the Emergence Window
Our butterflies are shipped to us as pupae (chrysalides) every two weeks from Costa Rica and the Philippines. When they arrive, our staff use a hot glue gun to attach the very tip of the chrysalis to a straw and then hang them in the Emergence Window. When they emerge, they hang from their chrysalis to dry their wings and after 2-3 hours, they take their first flight into the Conservatory. Witnessing an emergence is unbelievably magical – be patient and you just might see it happen.
5) Talk to a Nature Interpreter!
We are very lucky to have an amazingly passionate and knowledgeable staff team here at the Conservatory. The best part of our day is chatting with guests, and we guarantee we can blow your mind with crazy facts about butterflies and other insects. We have an extensive collection of tropical insects from Southern Asia and the Pacific. Ask one of our staff to see a giant stick bug or a hissing cockroach – we promise they’re way less gross (and way more cool!) than you think! Pro tip – not everyone knows this, but our staff loves it when visitors ask them questions about the butterflies and the insects! Can you ask them a question they don’t know the answer to? See if you can stump them!
6) Meet the Ninja Turtles
You may have heard of Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo – our four Red-eared Sliders that were donated to us as brothers (or so we thought – Donatello is actually Donatella, but hey). Red-eared Sliders are aquatic turtles and are very strong swimmers. They’re most often sunning on the rocks in the pond, see if you can find all four of them!
7) Look at Butterflies and Moths of Ontario
Ontario is home to some stunning butterflies and moths and we bet you’ve seen some in your own backyard. In the back corner of the Butterfly Gallery you’ll find a great feature on our local butterflies and moths to help you place a name to a face (or a wing!) If you’re looking for a specific ID, you can always send an email to our Naturalist – be sure to include a photo and where you spotted it!
8) Eat a Bug!
Put your taste buds to the test! Chocolate-covered scorpions, honey-roasted crickets, and BBQ-spiced mealworms are just a few of the delicacies that are for sale in our Gift Store all year round. We also host BugFeast, a massive annual event on March Break. Every year is a different theme and features a variety of different insect recipes – are you brave enough to eat a bug?
9) Take Pictures!
The Conservatory is a photographer’s dream. The tropical foliage is a stunning backdrop for photos of all kinds from selfies to wedding photography. Don’t forget to tag/like/mention us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and we’ll retweet/share/regram as much as possible! Share your photos in our ongoing photo safari using the hashtag, #ButterflyPhotoSafari.
10) Join in on a Guided Tour or Program – They’re FREE !
We offer free programming almost all year round. Check out our Daily Programming page for more information on daily programming for tots and the young at heart, or join us every day in July and August for free guided tours. We’ll let you in on the skinny – the ins and out of running a conservatory, how to catch bugs outdoors, and lots more!