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Costa Rica is home to over 1,200 species of butterfly and 8,000 types of moth. A great destination to see such exotic and colorful wildlife are Costa Rica’s wonderful butterfly gardens. Here the insects are raised and studied and the whole facility is open to tourists to view these remarkable insects.

The Butterfly Conservatory is a Rainforest Regeneration Project which is devoted to restoring the varied species that are found naturally in the ecosystem that surrounds the Arenal Volcano.

Visitors to the Conservtory experience exhibits on how butterflies reproduce, exotic frogs, insects, and plants in this natural environment.

Common butterfly species in Costa Rica
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Thoas Swallowtail (Papilio Thoas)— Also called King´s Swallowtail, this species is a common but great butterfly from Neotropic ecozone (South America) with a wingspan of 12 – 14 cm. The butterfly is dark brown with yellow spots and bands and its hind wings have tails. Read more.

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Peleides Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)— Also know as The Emperor or Common Morpho, this species has a wingspan ranging from 7.5–20 cm. Its brilliant blue color in the butterfly’s wings is caused by the diffraction of the light from millions of tiny scales on its wings. It uses this to frighten away predators, by flashing its wings rapidly. Read more.

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Hecale Longwing (Heliconius hecale)— Also known as the Tiger Longwing or Golden Helicon, this butterfly is brightly colored with long forewings and lives in a large area from Central America to the Amazon. Larvae of most longwings feed on passion vines, and this host plant imparts noxious chemicals to the larvae which are carried over to the adult butterflies. This relationship is identical to the monarch butterflies’ reliance on its host plant, milkweed, for defense. Predators find these chemicals distasteful and avoid eating both the larvae and adult butterflies. Read more.

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Florida White (Appias drusilla)— Also called the Tropical White, this butterfly lives in tropical America from Brazil north to southern peninsular Florida. Males have solid white on both upper and lower surfaces of wings except for a narrow edging of black along the forewing costal margin. Females have 2 forms: the dry-season form is all white and the wet season form has black along the forewing costal margin and a yellow-orange upper hindwing. Read more.

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Owl Butterfly (Caligo eurilochus)— These butterflies bear huge eyespots on their wings, which resemble owls’ eyes as a deterrent to predators. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America. Read more.

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Postman Butterfly (Heliconius melpomene)— Are tropical butterflies found in Central and South America. They are most common along sunlit forest edges with flowers. I observed this Postman Butterfly on Lantana (Lantana camara) flowers next to a forested area in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Lantana flowers are particular favorites of these and other Heliconian butterflies. Read more.

Links & Other Resources

View Our Slideshow | The Butterfly Conservatory