Isla's View: What's it like to visit Lukas Nursery and Butterfly Encounter?

Julie Broughton's daughter reviews Orlando-area activities, attractions


OVIEDO, Fla. – You probably didn't know it, but the Orlando area is home to the largest -- and only -- native butterfly conservatory in the state.

Lukas Nursery and Butterfly Encounter has been around since the 1970s and added the butterfly conservatory in 2004.

It's now 4,000 square feet and includes a refueling station, where guests can actually feed butterflies and touch them.

They also have all kinds of finches and Chinese button quail that you can get up close and personal with during your visit.

The best time to visit the conservatory is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., as butterflies like warm, sunny days. However, it's open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the last admission happening at 3:30 p.m. Tickets cost $6 and kids 3 and under can get in free.

Isla Mae, News 6 anchor Julie Broughton's 8-year-old daughter, visited the encounter for this week's "Isla's View" and talked to its manager, Edna Kane, about all the exhibit has to offer.

Here's a full breakdown of their conversation:

Isla: How many butterflies do you have here?
Edna: It really depends on the season, but we could have anywhere from 300 to 500 butterflies on a good day.

Isla: What types of butterflies do you have?
Edna: We house only butterflies that are native to the state of Florida. We have a bunch of different varieties here right now. Monarchs, Swallowtails, we have all different varieties. They hatch out on a daily basis so sometimes it's a surprise to us what we have in here.

Isla: I see you have birds here, too.
Edna: Yes, we have Chinese button quail birds that roam the grounds and they're actually my cleaning crew, they eat the insects and dead butterflies.

Isla: What are the ages you would suggest for this garden?
Edna: We are for all ages, from babies in strollers that get very enthusiastic from seeing the butterflies fly about to our seniors out there who want something to do during the day.

Isla: I see you have lots of plants here, too.
Edna: Yes, I like to say we have three kinds of plants: host plants, which are the plants butterflies lay their eggs on caterpillars emerge and eat, nectar plants, which are for the adult butterflies and we have some for your viewing pleasure.

Isla: You have lots of flowers, too.
Edna: We do. In order to have butterflies, you need to have a lot of nectar because it's their food source, so it's a constant battle in changing out nectars. But it's one of the benefits of working at a nursery, because we can just walk outside and grab some plants and put them in here.

Isla: Why is it so wet and moist in here?
Edna: Well, we prefer to say that the environment is quite tropical. You know, butterflies like it hot and tropical but also because of the structure of the building it tends to be a little bit more tropical than outside. Also, because of the water features and the rain, it will rain in two of the four rooms and when it's raining the butterflies stop flying, but it still maintains that moisture in here, which keeps it a little more tropical.

Isla: Why do the butterflies get up so late?
Edna: Butterflies are solar-powered, they get their energy from the sun, they want that sun. Because its sheltered in here, it's a little darker in the morning so the butterflies don't start flying until about 10 a.m.

Isla: You can learn while you're having fun, you can see all these cute little birds roaming the ground or butterflies flying in the sky.
Edna: The Butterfly Encounter here, since it's a Florida native butterfly conservatory, you actually have the opportunity to see the entire life cycle of the butterfly, so its not just butterflies. It's butterflies laying eggs, it's caterpillars, it's chrysalises in the most bizarre places, so it's the full life cycle of the butterfly in here.

Learn more about the Butterfly Encounter here.

About the Authors: