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Last Chance: Butterfly Conservatory Closes May 30

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Catch The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter, a live-animal exhibition where visitors can mingle with up to 500 butterflies among tropical flowers and vegetation, before it closes on Monday, May 30.

Watch as Hazel Davies, manager of Living Exhibits at the Museum, and Whitney Doreen Ortiz walk through the vivarium and interact with butterflies from around the world, including blue morphos, striking scarlet swallowtails, and large owl butterflies.

Tags: Butterflies

The Butterfly Brief: Heliconius cydno

The Butterfly Brief: Heliconius cydno

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Butterflies that belong to the Heliconius genus, known colloquially as longwings, have discovered the secret to butterfly longevity. Like most members of the order Lepidoptera, longwings sip nectar from flowers using a straw-like organ called a proboscis. What distinguishes them from fellow butterflies — and moths — is that longwings can broaden their diet beyond these sweet liquids — which, in turn, is thought to extend their life.

That’s because Heliconius butterflies are able to ingest pollen by secreting enzymes onto their proboscides. When these enzymes mix with pollen grains, they create a protein-rich liquid that the butterfly can absorb. Longwings spend hours collecting and processing pollen grains and depositing them at other stops along the way. The plants pay them back, big time: the amino acids found in pollen are thought to increase egg production and lifespan up to eight months, making longwings one of the longest-living groups of butterflies in the world.

Tags: Butterflies

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