Carleton University Butterfly Show

Every year the Carleton University Biology Department hosts its annual Butterfly Show.  During the 9 days leading into the Thanksgiving weekend, over 1300 live exotic butterflies are released into the Nesbitt Biology building greenhouses.  The public is invited to come visit these beautiful creatures and learn more about them.

Show Dates and Times

Saturday, September 29th, 2018, through Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Daily hours are 9:00  a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (the line up on weekends closes at 3:00 p.m. due to the volume).

Show Location

The show takes place in the Nesbitt Biology building, located in the south-east corner of Carleton University Campus. Carleton University is located between Colonel By Dr. and Bronson Ave. along the Rideau canal.

Public Transit

Carleton is accessible through public transit via OC Transpo routes 4, 7, as well as the O-Train.  The O-Train provides service to Carleton University from the transit stations at Bayview (Lebreton Flats) and Greenboro (South Keys) with stops at Carling and Confederation Heights.


Parking is available for visitors. Please see the parking map and refer to the rates.

The Butterflies are Free

The butterfly show is free.  We believe that it is more important that you can come and enjoy the show.

Donations Welcome

We receive a large portion of funding from public donations at the door.  Every bit helps, and we appreciate every donation greatly.

Or you can make a gift online.

Who would enjoy the show?

This show is great for anybody of any age who loves butterflies.  All ages are most welcome.  Please keep in mind during your visit that the show is for everybody.  There are generally lots of children and families around.

Please avoid bringing large strollers to the show.  They don’t fit in most of the aisles in the greenhouses.  If you are bringing a stroller, please be prepared to leave it outside the greenhouses (in the building lobby).  Note that this is not a secure area, so please don’t leave any valuables in the stroller.

The Nesbitt Biology building is fully wheelchair accessible.  The greenhouses are accessible for standard sized wheelchairs, but many of the corners in the greenhouses are too tight for mechanized wheelchairs.  A note: there are generally a lot of people around during the show, so manoeuvring a wheelchair through the greenhouses can be challenging.

What to Expect

The show is meant to be both an educational and fun visit.  The building lobby contains education displays of local butterflies with true colour photos and information.  From the lobby you can enter the greenhouses to visit our live exotic butterflies.

We recommend that you dress in layers when visiting the show.  October temperatures can be chilly and the transition to our tropical greenhouses can be a bit of a shock.  Daytime greenhouse temperatures are 30ºC with significant humidity.

There is no secure storage available for coats, bags, strollers, etc.  We encourage you to avoid bringing large backpacks or strollers if possible.  Bags and strollers are not permitted in the greenhouses, and must be left in the lobby, at the your own risk.

What can I do to encourage landings?

Butterflies fly freely in the greenhouses and will occasionally land on you.  Butterflies are fragile, please don’t pick them up or touch them.

For those who would like closer looks at our butterflies, there are a few tricks you can try:

  • Wear brightly coloured clothing (yellows, oranges, and pinks)
  • Bring some juicy orange or pineapple slices
  • Find a spot in a greenhouse near some bright flowers, hold your fruit up, and stay still.

Some are easily startled and will take off if disturbed, while others will happily stay still for photographing or showing to other visitors.

If one lands on you, they are easily dislodged by blowing gently on their wings.

Taking Photographs

We encourage photography of all kinds, from point-and-shoot to professionals.

When taking photographs, please be sure to obtain permission from anyone in the picture (ask the parents of children).  The show can get to be quite crowded at times, so the use of tripods can be difficult.  Please don’t block the aisles in the greenhouses.  Greenhouse temperatures are often around 30°C with significant humidity.  Some camera equipment takes a while to adjust from being outside in October weather.

Lost and Found

At the end of everyday any items left behind will be sent to the campus lost and found.


Group Tours:

Tours are offered during the school week Monday, October 1st, 2018 to Thursday, October 4th, 2018.

please e-mail

See Tour FAQ for more details

More Information

General Information:

Please feel free to contact us during our business hours

(Monday to Friday 8:30-noon & 1:00-4:30):,


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