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The Toledo Zoo Butterfly Conservation Center

Updated on September 17, 2015
A monarch butterfly at the Toledo Zoo Butterfly Conservation Center
A monarch butterfly at the Toledo Zoo Butterfly Conservation Center

The Butterflies Will Flaunt Their Abilities

One of the most incredible exhibits at the Toledo Zoo is the Butterfly Conservation Center. If you ever go there, this is the exhibit that you can not miss. Once you enter you will be greeted by a multitude of butterflies of different species. The emphasis here is that you will be greeted. When I entered, I was surprised by how friendly they were. I was amused by how many of them flew toward me and then ducked and flew underneath my chin. Yes, when walking through the exhibit, you have to be careful where you step. You also have to be careful that they may land on you. I remember a women who was ready to exit the center when one of the butterflies landed on her shoulder and then refused to leave. It was kind of funny to watch as she stood there while two of the zoo employees carefully attempted to remove the butterfly. When you do enter and leave you will hear a rush of air from what sounds like fans. Obviously this is necessary to prevent any of the butterflies from escaping.

Bring A Camera

If you go, the one thing you should bring is a camera. Yes, most smart phones can take remarkable photos but the key is getting a good close up. Almost any new camera on the market today can take pretty could close ups. As docile as these butterflies are, it is not hard to get some good photos. It is also bright enough so you won't need a flash, hopefully if you visit on a sunny day, since the conservation center is actually a greenhouse. The only problem that I encountered, that made it sometimes difficult to get the shot, is another butterfly zooming past the field of view. For me, this happened quite often and I found it rather funny. For an insect that is considered not very aware or not very intelligent, I on the contrary found that they had personality. At least that is the impression that I got. They seemed curious, playful, and they seemed to flaunt their abilities.


These were the butterflies that I encountered at the conservation center. I used a digital Nikon D60 camera with a standard 18 to 55 mm zoom lens.

Julia Helliconian Butterfly

The Julia Helliconian butterflies are somewhat small, with a wingspan barely over three and a half inches. They can only be found in southern Texas.

I found these butterflies to be the most playful, the most friendly and the most energetic, constantly flying across my face, zooming toward me and then turning away. This is evident in the photo below showing one of them in flight.

The females have more black on their wings while the males are usually a brighter orange, so the two butterflies below are probably males while the second photo shows a female.

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

The Zebra Longwing can have a wingspan up to 4 inches. In the continental US, this striking butterfly can only be found in Florida and in southern Texas.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

This butterfly gets its name from the fact that it can reach a wingspan of over six inches. In the US, the range of the Giant Swallowtail covers most of the midwest and the east coast but only as far north as Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, and West Virginia. It also can be found in parts of Kansas, and Oklahoma and in all of Texas.

Giant Swallowtail In Flight

Getting a good closeup shot of a motionless butterfly is not hard but they didn't always cooperate. However, getting a shot of them in flight was just as impressive.

Monarch Butterfly

The common Monarch. It can be found everywhere in the continental United States. Can reach a wingspan up to four inches.

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

This is a female Pipeline Swallowtail butterfly. It can reach a wingspan up to five inches. The butterfly's flight range covers most of the continental US, They can be found on the east coast as far north as Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio. Can be found in the entire south and part of the west which includes Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.


The butterfly center is located at the back of the zoo next to the aquarium. A fee is required to enter and is different for adults, children, and senior citizens. You will be given instructions when you enter. There is also information available on all the different species.

So, next time you are at the Toledo Zoo, don't forget to visit the butterfly center and don't forget to bring your camera.


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