The Butterfly House: preserving the butterflies in Vienna

Ogi Savic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

I’ve stumbled upon a beautiful, but very sad lullaby “Fly Butterfly Fly”. It tells a story of a butterfly that flew too high and was caught by an eagle. This song was an inspiration for me to write an article about one of the unusual attractions in Vienna, that also has an ecological value, as it's preserving the butterflies. You may have guessed it by now; it is a story about the Butterfly House. This kind of sanctuary for butterflies is a  place where they are looked after and shielded from their natural predators.

The butterfly houses, or conservatories as some call them, are a kind of zoos reserved only for butterflies. Their function is mostly to breed the butterflies and display them to a broader audience. The main goal of these institutions is an educational one. Although they are very popular with tourists, there are not too many butterfly houses in Europe.

Schmetterlinghaus: Vienna’s take on the butterfly house

The Butterfly House in Vienna is better known for its, some say ironically, very romantic sounding German name Schmetterlinghaus. It is a barely 30 years old institution, established in 1990. Its first location was in Sonnenuhrhaus, in the garden of the famous Schönbrunn Palace. The Butterfly House was an immanent success, but it had to be closed for one year because the historic building needed urgent restoration. The institution found its new home at the western part of the fully refurbished, historic Palm House. This section was specifically designed as a butterfly house, with waterfalls, a small pond, towering trees and exotic plants.

The Palm House is an astonishing Art Nouveau steel and glass construction, which was designed as a greenhouse for the royal family. It is located directly in the heart of the thriving metropolis. From one side, it is a side-wing of the Hofburg, the residence of the Habsburg family. From the other, it is the beautiful Imperial Garden or Burggarten. In front of the Butterfly House, there is a terrace with a fantastic view of the garden.

© iStock / Roman Babakin

Fly little butterfly

In the Butterfly House, you can see approximately 400 butterflies from the tropical regions flying freely, representing around 150 different species. The interior of the glasshouse imitates the conditions of the tropical rainforest. It has a constant temperature of about 26 degrees and air humidity of about 80%. Each butterfly species has its host plant, which tends to its needs. Many species of adult butterflies live only one to two weeks. During this period, they have to produce their offspring. Approximately every two weeks, a new delivery of butterflies come to Vienna’s Butterfly House from recognised butterfly farms in various tropical countries. The institution breeds its own butterflies as well, and the visitors can even observe how larvae turn into butterflies.

© iStock / Mathisa_s

The institution that is there only for preserving these fragile little creatures deserves everyone’s attention and visit. The best time to visit the Butterfly House is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., when the butterflies are the most active, especially if it is on a warm and sunny day. Over time, the Butterfly House has become one of the most established attractions of Vienna.

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