The Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens is one of the biggest open-air butterfly centers in the country. Thousands of butterflies swirl around you as you walk through the conservatory, which features plenty of nectar plants and a waterfall. In the lobby, you can watch chrysalides turn into butterflies. Most of the butterflies are not the typical butterflies you would see in a Southeastern garden. Some of my favorites are the Paper White butterflies, which were the most active during our early-morning visit. (The butterflies are not morning insects – they become more active as sunlight and temperature increase.) This particular butterfly was just gorgeous as he nectared, and I loved the sun angle on him.
The butterfly center just redid some of the flower beds inside. One of the most common plants is the penta, which provides nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds. The center also puts out banana peels and oranges for the butterflies to eat. Apparently those are quite the crowd pleaser!
Outside the center are flower beds designed to attract butterflies. They do an excellent job at that! I was amazed at the butterfly bushes, which were taller than I am. Mine never get that tall! Purple is the color that most attracts butterflies, and most of the bushes were the purple variety. The butterflies, especially the swallowtails, were all over them.
But the butterfly center and its showy gardens are not the only places to find butterflies at Callaway. They were all over! Rich and I hiked the Wildflower trail several times, and we found this sulphur nectaring on the wildflower daisies growing there. One thing that always surprises me about that trail is that there are so few flowers on it, and yet they attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and all sorts of insects. The native flowers growing quietly under the tall trees are actually probably the most natural place for butterflies.
In the Vegetable Garden, they usually have a small butterfly garden growing in the middle of the vege beds. Unfortunately, during this visit that area was mostly weeds. But the butterflies found other places to go. They were especially attracted to the groundcover lantana plants that created a border along some of the plants.
Want to learn more about nature photography at Callaway Gardens?
Check out my Callaway Gardens page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!