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Visit the Tenerife Mariposario del Drago butterfly gardens of Icod de los Vinos

Updated on April 11, 2016

Icod's butterfly gardens

Icod de los Vinos gets lots of tourists visiting it in order to see the Drago Milenario thousand-year-old Dragon Tree, but the Mariposario del Drago butterfly gardens is another popular attraction of the city. Besides the mighty dragon tree, the Mariposario makes for an unforgettable experience for any visitor to Icod.

You can find the Mariposario del Drago at the end of the Avenida de Canarias, which is very close to the Parque del Drago where the ancient tree stands. This makes it very convenient for visitors to Icod, and it is conveniently near the underground carpark. It really is worth seeing the Mariposario if you are in Icod de los Vinos, and you will see plenty of signs for it, and maybe some flyers will be handed out to you or you will see them on a wall or in a shop.

Mariposario del Drago photos

Atlas moth
Atlas moth
Paper Kite butterfly
Paper Kite butterfly
Mariposario del Drago
Mariposario del Drago

Monarch butterflies fly freely

After paying at the entrance of the glass-roofed building you step into a world full of exotic plants, bushes and tropical flowering creepers. There is a water gardens area too and with all the beautiful butterflies flying about and landing on the flowers it feels like you have entered a paradise.

There are lots of species in the Mariposario, including Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), the colourful Heliconius butterflies (Heliconius charitonius and H. doris), the huge black and white Paper Kite or Rice Paper butterfly (Idea leuconoe) as well as several types of Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio spp). The butterflies species all fly freely around the gardens and pause to sip nectar at feeding stations and from the many flowering shrubs. There are plenty of great opportunities for taking photos to help remind you of your visit and the amazing insects you saw at the Mariposario.

The Mariposario del Drago also rears the amazing Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas), which is one of the biggest moths in the world and is a member of the Silk Moth family. The delicately-coloured Moon Moth (Argemma mittrei) is in the same group of moths as the Atlas but much smaller. This species and the strange Death Head’s Hawk Moth (Acherontia atropos) are two more species you are likely to see. The Moon Moth is a beautiful pale green with uniquely formed wings that are a real delight to the eye.

The Death's Head Hawk gets its name because of the skull and crossbones marking on the back of its thorax. It is an insect that has been the focus of many superstitious beliefs, and perhaps, not surprisingly, because it is a very weird insect. It can squeak and it robs beehives to steal honey. This moth was featured in the publicity for the movie Silence of the Lambs, which starred Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. It is a scary-looking moth just right for a scary movie about a cannibal!

All the different stages of the insects’ metamorphosis can be observed in a section devoted to their care. There are cages full of caterpillars ravenously feeding on their specific food-plants, and exquisitely-coloured and shaped chrysalises are on display as they wait to emerge as adult butterflies.

Some types of chrysalis look like little metal charms or carved semi-precious gem-stones. They come in shades of gold and bronze and an exquisite jade green. You can gaze in wonder at them as they hang in lines.

If you are in luck and are in the Mariposario del Drago at the right moment in time you might be able to watch an adult butterfly hatch out from its chrysalis. It is a moment worth experiencing and that will live in your memories.

The gardens in the Mariposario also have lots of colourful Koi carp in the pools and you will probably be able to spot terrapins that have hauled themselves out to bask in the sunlight that shines through the glass panes above.

There are even tiny bird species that fly about and fill the air with bird song. There are special feeders placed around the gardens for them as well as feeding stations for the butterflies where they can land and sip especial sugared-water put out for them.

New Age music helps cast a spell on you as you wander the pathways amongst the tropical bushes and vines with colourful butterflies and little birds flitting about all around you.

At the far end of the building you can go down a flight of steps and there you will also find an exhibition room. There are wall-charts with information and pictures and models of caterpillars, chrysalises and adult butterflies showing stages of their lifecycle. A cinema room in this downstairs part of the Mariposario shows films about various other types of insects, including mighty Stag Beetle males (Lucanus cervus) fighting.

The Mariposario del Drago is open from 9.00 - 18.00 from Monday to Saturdays and 9.30 – 18.00 Sundays and Holidays (in winter). In summer it is a slight change to the hours: 9.00 – 19.00 from Mondays to Saturdays and 9.30 – 19.30 Sundays and Holidays.

The Mariposario del Drago provides access for wheelchair users.

Visitors to the Mariposario del Drago are permitted to take photos and use video-cameras in the gardens.

The Mariposario del Drago is definitely worth visiting if you are in the north of Tenerife and fancy a change from the mountains, forests and beaches of the island.

El Mariposario del drago. Canarias Directo.


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