Sometimes life gets so busy that we have to learn to slow down, spend time with family, and really enjoy nature. On a recent visit to the San Antonio Zoo, Whistler and I spent the day bonding and exploring, while learning more about the animals. Hanging out with the Texas butterflies in the San Antonio Zoo Butterfly Exhibit was a favorite.
(Thank you to The San Antonio Convention & Visitor’s Bureau along with the San Antonio Zoo for providing me and my son with complimentary entry. )
When you’re three years old and short, sometimes it’s the smaller, more interactive experiences that really capture your attention. Little did I know, that spending a $1.50, and a couple of hours in a natural butterfly habitat, would be the highlight of our day.
Whistler could have spent the entire day playing with butterflies at the Butterflies! Caterpillar Flight School. This exhibit, open from March-November, gave us time to interact with 15-20 different species of butterflies for just a $1.50 fee.
Every March, they also host Monarch Fest, a fun celebration monarchs, milkweed and migration. The monarch butterfly is the state insect of Texas and migrates through San Antonio twice a year.
The city of San Antonio, Texas was actually the very first Monarch Champion City named by the National Wildlife Federation in 2017. Being a Monarch Champion City means they are dedicated to adopting the 24 NWF recommended actions, one of which is hosting a festival dedicated to the Monarch butterfly.
Butterfly Facts for Kids
As the fragile creatures fluttered about, landing on our hands, heads and arms, we learned some fun facts about the beautiful insects.
- Did you know butterflies have an average lifespan of 2-3 weeks, but monarch butterflies average 6 months or longer? The butterfly with the longest lifetime of all the adult butterflies is the Brimstone butterfly at 9-10 months.
- Were you aware that butterflies are most active on warm and sunny days? They actually can’t fly if it is too cold! Their body temperature needs to be above 86 degrees in order to fly. Which explains why you won’t see butterflies flying at night.
- Butterflies can see red, blue, green, and yellow. They also see violet and UV!
- The fastest butterflies in the world are skippers, and can fly at 37 miles per hour! That’s crazy fast, but butterflies more commonly fly at about 5 to 12 miles per hour.
- The only place in the world where butterflies are not found is Antarctica.
- Butterflies taste with their feet.
- Learn more fun facts about butterflies and about their life cycle in our The Aruba Butterfly Farm and Fun Facts for Kids article.
Tips for Getting a Butterfly to Land on You
- Wear bright colored clothing. Butterflies are attracted to orange, red, yellow, purple and pink flowers. Some zoo staff insist they get a lot of attention from butterflies when wearing blue and white too!
- Stand still or have a seat. Take a moment to enjoy their beauty while being still and you may get lucky! If there are children who are very active near you, try and find a quiet spot where there isn’t much movement around you.
- Hang out near a feeding station. Some people also think wearing a sweet smelling or flowery perfume also helps attract butterflies.
Whistler laughed as the butterflies landed on his hands, arms and head, and I smiled as I captured his delight with my camera.
More butterfly, nature and kids articles:
- Start a Butterfly Garden: Plants that Attract Butterflies
- 7 Things Kids Can Do to Help Wild Animals
- A Day Spent at the San Antonio Zoo
The San Antonio Zoo spends over $25,000 on butterflies each year, and uses the $1.50 fee to re-stock the butterflies. All of the butterflies at the Caterpillar Flight School are purchased from local butterfly breeders in their countries of origin. The financial support from the SA Zoo has provided the breeders with an improved standard of living.
My son loved this experience so much that I was beyond thrilled when I was asked by Disney to share the release of their newest Disneynature film, “Wings of Life”.
It is available for purchase on Blu-ray combo pack and presents a close up look at butterflies, bees and birds. It’s the perfect way to continue enjoying the butterflies and memories of our day at the Zoo at home.
Disneynature Wings of Life
If you’re as obsessed with butterflies as we are, you will love Disnyenature’s film Wings of Life. Narrated by actress Meryl Streep, the film takes an intimate look at the “most important relationship on Earth” in stunning detail.
You will learn more about the fragile balance between pollination and human existence, in this high definition, visually stunning documentary. “Wings of Life” was filmed in multiple locations including, the El Rosario Preserve in Michoacán, Mexico, and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Park in Arizona.
In celebration of the release of the film, Disneynature made a contribution to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) to protect pollinators worldwide. To date, the DWCF has supported over 20 projects across North America designed to protect pollinators and their habitats.