Butterfly Encounter FAQs

What are the cycles of the Monarch Butterfly?

The Monarch Butterfly goes through 4 stages. The egg, which lasts about 4 days, develops into a caterpillar.  After hatching from the egg, the caterpillar consumes huge amounts of milkweed for about 2 more weeks.  The caterpillar forms a J – shape then forms the chrysalis (pupa).  Up to 10 days later the chrysalis hatches into a beautiful Monarch Butterfly.  Adult butterflies live from two to six weeks.

Do all Monarch Butterflies migrate to Mexico?

Monarchs bred east of the Continental Divide will migrate to Mexico. Monarchs bred west of the Continental Divide will migrate to California. Our butterflies migrate to Mexico. Only the 4th generation of Monarch Butterflies migrate to Mexico. Once in Mexico they will hibernate until Spring when they will lay eggs to start the next generation.

What are the cycles of the caterpillars?

The caterpillars (larvae) go through 5 instars or stages.  Each one brings changes in size and development of the caterpillar.  Caterpillars’ skin is like a shell.  It doesn’t grow so for each stage it must shed its shell.  The caterpillar then eats the shell because it is full of vitamins for growth.

What butterflies are in the enclosure?

We have Monarch Butterflies, Painted Ladies, and soon will have Swallowtails.

Why do the chrysalises come from?

Most of chrysalises we buy from butterfly farmers but we also raise caterpillars which form the chrysalides.

What do butterflies eat?

Butterflies eat nectar from flowering plants, juice from different types of fruit, and Gatorade.

What’s in the cotton balls?

We soak cotton balls in Gatorade so the butterflies can “taste” it with their feet and then drink the Gatorade like they would nectar.

How many butterflies do we release?

We release up to 250 butterflies per species once a week when they are able to survive in the Rocky Mountain Region.

How many butterflies are in the enclosure?

We only hatch enough butterflies to allow our release program to continue.

Who started this project?

This project was started as a collaboration between The Stanley Hotel and students from the Environmental Research Methods class at Estes Park High School.

Do the students volunteer?

The students all volunteer their time over the summer to maintain the indoor enclosure and to continue the release program.