Monteverde Butterfly Garden

The Monteverde Butterfly Garden – known locally as the Mariposario – is one of Monteverde’s most visited attractions. Situated in Cerro Plano, which lies between the town of Santa Elena and the Monteverde Reserve, the Butterfly Garden is comprised of four climate-controlled butterfly gardens, a medicinal plant garden, a biodiversity center, and a live leafcutter ant colony. Here visitors can observe some of the most fascinating and beautiful insects in all of the tropics.

The garden was founded in 1989 by biologist Jim Wolfe and his wife Marta with the goal of educating visitors about Costa Rica’s native insect and butterfly populations. Jim and Marta have been hand-raising butterflies and other insects for the past sixteen years, and have a wealth of knowledge about these fragile creatures. Unlike other gardens that buy their chrysalides, all of the butterflies in the garden are bred on the premises.

The Monteverde Butterfly Garden believes in hands-on education. The biodiversity center displays insects and arachnids that are local to Monteverde, many of which are still alive. This allows visitors to have an up-close and personal experience with the creatures as they learn about their breeding and feeding habits. There is a live bug cam, as well as a case for viewing the butterflies as they emerge from their chrysalides.

Each of the four butterfly gardens represents a different Costa Rican habitat. They vary according to temperature, altitude and vegetation, ranging from hot lowlands to high-altitude cloud forests. The gardens contain more than fifty species in total, including the Calico (the only butterfly in the world to produce sound), Blue Morpho, Glass-Wings, and Zebra-Wing butterfly.

The medicinal plant garden is a self-guided tour of more than seventy plants that are used medicinally throughout the world. An information sheet lists their many – and often surprising – uses.

The final, and perhaps most fascinating, exhibit is the leafcutter ant colony. The ant colony is displayed under glass, which allows visitors to see the ants carrying leaves along a network of trails to their nest. They do this to cultivate a fungus from the decomposing vegetation that they will later use for food.

Well-trained, bilingual volunteers lead visitors through the entire property on a tour that lasts around 1.5 hours.

The Monteverde Butterfly Garden is open 365 days a year, from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Butterflies are most active when it’s sunny, so the best time to see them is between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. The entrance fee is $9 for adults, $7 for students and $3 for children. All proceeds go towards maintaining the gardens and improving the exhibits.

In addition to its daily tours, the Monteverde Butterfly Garden runs a year-round volunteer program. Volunteers must commit to stay a minimum of two months and are expected to work up to four hours a day, six days a week. Volunteers will be trained to lead tours and perform general maintenance tasks. Accommodations are provided and volunteers have access to a communal kitchen.

For further information about volunteer opportunities, please email