Spend a moment in our Butterfly Rainforest with Ryan learning about how some butterflies eat. Did you know, not all butterflies are pollinators that visit flowers? Some live in forest environments where limited sunlight means plants don’t often bloom so these species feed off of decaying material instead.

Here in the exhibit you’ll see those butterflies feeding on fruit that our keepers have cut open and scored for them to enjoy.


Hello. Welcome to the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History. My name is Ryan and today we’ll be talking about butterfly feeding. Specifically butterflies that do not feed on flowers.

We typically think of butterflies that are pollinators and that’s true when you live in a place where there is a lot of sunlight and a lot of flowers blooming. So, you know, open meadows, forest edges, urban environments. But if you go into the thick woods, be it temperate woods or tropical rainforests, you don’t have a lot of sunlight getting through those trees so you don’t have a lot of flowers blooming.

Butterflies that live in those habitats have learned to feed on other things. Decaying things. Anything you can find on those forest floors. That could be dead animals, it could be animal dung, or it could be rotten fruit that’s fallen to the ground and burst open. Whatever is producing the sugars from decomposition, that’s what these butterflies are looking for.

So for the exhibits like ours, the fruit will be sitting open and it will be cut so the butterflies can stick their proboscis deep down and drink those nice juices. It may not be bananas as you see here, but it could also be mangoes or papaya. It all depends on what the butterfly house wants to have.

We hope you come on in and take a look and see these butterflies in action feeding on this fruit. Hope you’ve enjoyed. Have a great rest of the day.  Thank you.

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Video by Ryan Fessenden; Produced by Radha Krueger