Butterflies of 20,000 species from nearly every continent come and go throughout the year at Walt Disney World Resort!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is home to more than 1,500 animals representing 250 species. While butterflies are not officially housed in an exhibit, many call the Park home–or “home away from home” during migrations–and can be found flittering around the Park any day of the year.
The best way to spot butterflies at Animal Kingdom is to pause from the constant go-go-go pace the theme parks often require. Slow down, step to the side, and look closely at the flowers and foliage. Many flowers and known butterfly-host plants are strategically planted throughout the Park to invite the delicate insects for a visit. The gardens vary by butterfly habitat requirements, such as what host plant the caterpillars need to survive and pupate and what nectar adult butterflies feed on.
Spotting butterflies at Disney\’s Animal Kingdom Park & across Walt Disney World Resort
Did you know?
Over 8,000 acres of Walt Disney World Resort (that’s nearly one-third of the property) is set aside for wildlife conservation. Disney, as the founding member of the Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network, has established a portion of this space to butterfly monitoring so scientists can learn more about population patterns, identify endangered species, and develop conservation strategies. As a result of Disney’s dedication, the rare atala hairstreak butterfly pictured above, once thought to be extinct in Florida, is now thriving in the state. The butterflies are raised and released into their native habitat on the Atlantic coast at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort where the species’ host plant, a palm-like plant called the coontie, grows in abundance. Disney also implements Integrated Pest Management techniques to minimize the negative effects of pesticides and reduce chemical threats to butterflies on the property.
Guests can learn more about The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to conservation by experiencing Backstage Tales, a behind-the-scenes tour of the animal facilities offered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
The theme parks and conservation areas are not the only places to spot butterflies. Some of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels have gardens dedicated to Florida butterfly species, with nectar plants like firebrush and wild petunia and host plants like milkweed and passion vine attracting both common butterflies like the zebra longwing and at-risk species like the Duke’s Skipper.
To discover how you can help make the world a better place for butterflies and their habitats, check out the following websites:
Disney Conservation Fund
Disneynature: Wings of Life
Disney’s Animal Kingdom park
National Wildlife Federation
Million Pollinator Gardens
UF McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity
Butterflies can be found on every continent except Antarctica, of course, and can thrive in a variety of conditions, such as wetlands, lowlands, tropics, mountains, forests, and farmlands. You can even spot them in your own backyard! For additional fun, purchase a Butterfly Garden, and raise and release your own butterflies to the environment! You can learn more about butterfly gardening at Joyful Butterfly.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Biology
SKILL LEVEL: Elementary
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