For most folks, the beautiful malachite isn’t a typical backyard butterfly. But one of the great benefits of working in a free-flight butterfly garden exhibit is the chance to work with lovely species like this one, with its unusual green and brown markings. If you’re not close enough to stop by and see our butterflies in person, no worries… I took a few photos to share with you!
Malachites (Siproetes stelenes) aren’t generally found as far north as Tampa, but every so often we have a chance to display these incredible butterflies and are always happy to do so. (We usually display only native species that we’ve raised ourselves at the BioWorks Butterfly Garden Exhibit at MOSI Tampa, making us unique among butterfly exhibits.) This species is found in South and Central America up through south Texas, with another population in South Florida. Although malachites will nectar from flowers, they much prefer rotting fruit, including bananas and mangoes, so they’re often spotted around orchards and plantations where these fruits can be found. Their diet is also known to include bird droppings and carrion.
Malachites lay their eggs blechum and ruellia species. If we’re lucky, the malachites on display in our Flight Encounter exhibit will choose to lay some eggs on the Green Shrimp Plant (Blechum pyramidatum) we’ve provided, and we’ll have the chance to raise this species ourselves!