Butterflies are awesome. There, I said it. *deep breath* Still feeling manly. A cold but clear Sunday morning and we hit the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, a short distance from the Falls.

Truth be told, the name says it all. No alligators or 3D movies about blue aliens, but worth the price of admissions regardless.Its appearance not unlike those bio-domes from the seventies, the conservatory sits amidst a large park like a glass palace.

Upon admission to the Conservatory (adults $11.75; kids under 5 free), you immediately notice wet rocks, tropical plants towering up to a gauze-draped ceiling, Spanish moss hanging from old trees, a myriad of blossoms, and the sound of a nearby waterfall. The air is thick here, but not unbearable.

You stand still — and slowly, what you first thought were leaves begin to shudder. Colors bright enough to make you question their authenticity (don’t worry, they’re real) flit amongst the green. Your eyes adjust and you realize they’re everywhere.

Thousands of butterflies, feeding on fruit and blossoms, chasing each other in spirals. Some small and dainty like carefully painted fingernails; others big, ominous — the size of a man’s fist. One brown creature had a wing span of at least 5 inches, and its body was the length and width of my index finger.

My daughter was spellbound. The place mostly quiet save for the sounds of the man-made rain forest. Completely removed from the climate and natural surroundings outside.

What really stood out was the names of the butterflies — not the Latin ones, but their English nicknames. Mourning Cloak and Cloudless Sulphur among my faves.  And for the sturdy of heart, a glass case sporting various beetle specimens — some so gross in size you could feel their little pincers on your neck.


Harry Tournemille apparently likes butterflies.