Ontarians looking to escape the winter temperatures need not travel far; a lush, warm rainforest filled with plants and trees, the gentle sound of a waterfall and 1,500 butterflies and moths is only a drive away.
The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory offers visitors the unique opportunity to witness butterflies and moths awaken from their chrysalis and cocoons and take off for their first flight.
Andalyne Tofflemire, a naturalist and Conservatory Manager, explained that 40 different species of moths and butterflies are raised as caterpillars in the rainforest and shipped to the conservatory as pupas from Costa Rica and the Philippines.
"We put them all in the window, so you can see butterflies and moths that have just emerged that day," she said.
Entering The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory will feel like "a nice, warm hug," Tofflemire added. Kept at a balmy 26 degrees and 80% humidity, the beautiful colours, pond filled with fish and turtles, and the sound of small birds scurrying along the ground will greet visitors when they enter the 10,000-square-foot greenhouse.
Education staff is present to answer questions and bring out some of the conservatory live bugs, including stick insects, millipedes and cockroaches, for guests to view.
Visitors can also explore the inner workings of a leaf-cutter ant colony at a recently unveiled exhibit in the greenhouse.
"They're growing the fungus and harvesting little bits of leaves they carry down, so that's also been a real hit," she said.
Outside the greenhouse, guests can enter a museum-style gallery where different insects from around the world are on display. An observational honey beehive, aquarium and cafe make the visit complete.
To find out more information, visit the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory website.