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The Butterfly Conservatory

October 12, 2019 — May 25, 2020

Temporarily Closed

Timed entry only. Whitney Hall of Oceanic Birds, second floor.

Child looks through a magnifying glass to watch a butterfly feed from an orange slice.
R. Mickens/© AMNH
The popular annual seasonal exhibition is back with more than 500 free-flying butterflies amid lush tropical plants!

Butterflies and moths make up a large group of insects known as the Order Lepidoptera (lep-i-DOP-ter-ah). The name—from the Greek lepido, "scale," and ptera, "wings"—refers to a prominent feature of adult butterflies and moths, the tiny scales that cover the wings and the rest of the body.

Adult and two children view butterflies through magnifying glasses in the Butterfly Conservatory. R. Mickens/© AMNH
Butterfly alights on an evegreen branch. R. Mickens/© AMNH

There are more than 250,000 known species of Lepidoptera, of which about 18,000 are butterflies. Based on their anatomy, butterflies are classified into five families. This exhibition features butterflies from three of the families: the Pieridae (PYAIR-i-dee), commonly known as whites and sulphurs; the Papilionidae (pah-pill-ee-ON-i-dee), or swallowtails; and the Nymphalidae (nim-FAL-i-dee), which includes morphos, longwings, and others.

Adult butterflies are wonderfully diverse in shape, size, and color. Active during the day, they live almost everywhere around the world, from Arctic tundra to tropical rain forests.

Generous support for The Butterfly Conservatory has been provided by the Eileen P. Bernard Exhibition Fund.