The Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón

Cattle Heart Butterfly at The Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón

In El Valle de Antón (Anton Valley) and almost in the center of the town is the Butterfly Haven, a place full of life, beautiful, with very friendly people and willing to teach us about butterflies.

On my last visit to El Valle de Antón I decided to visit the Butterfly Haven, previously I had gone to the Metropolitan Park and I thought it would be the same, but no, since the one in El Valle de Antón is focused on education in an interactive way and it is managed by another company.

When I arrived, I parked outside, I had not realized that inside it has a parking lot, but then I did not move it, because it did not obstruct any car and it was under trees.

They have parking for up to 10 cars, including small buses like for 15 people.

Entrance to the Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón.
Entrance to the Butterfly Haven

The Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón has 3 attraction areas. One where the butterflies fly, another where the caterpillars and chrysalides (pupae) are and one where the video is projected. The tour explanation can be in English or Spanish.

Flight Room

Upon arrival the first thing they give you is a sheet (in English, Spanish, French or Polish) so that one enters the area where the butterflies are, can search for them and get to know a little about them, I used the Spanish one, although One side, where the butterflies were, was in English, I think it should be totally in Spanish.

Then a guide will explain you about some butterflies, the plants and giving useful advice.

Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón

If you touch the butterflies you can damage the wings, they are covered with scales and do not regenerate, also your hands can have dirt, creams, perfumes or anything external to the place and this can cause fungus and damage to the butterflies.


Butterfly scales.
Butterfly scales.

There are 2 food stations where we can watch them eat. The butterflies have 6 legs and a proboscis, with 4 legs they hold and with the 2 small ones they check the food, with the antennae they can smell, then with the spirit they suck the food from the juice of fruits or pollen flowers.

Butterflies are eating.
Blue Morpho Butterflies and Tiger Leaf Wing Butterfly (the one that looks like a dry leaf) eating pineapple.

The Butterfly Haven has host plants that are where they lay their eggs and chrysalis, and nectar plants, where they feed on flowers.

Herale Long Wing Butterfly.
Herale Long Wing Butterfly.

You will also see several signs with useful information about the butterflies, there is a small stream and an ideal bench to rest and see them.

Crystal Wings Butterfly.
In the center, the Crystal Wings Butterfly, likes to go out when it is less hot, or a little cold.

Being here they called me to go to the other rooms, since they were going to explain in Spanish and then I could go back to see the butterflies, because since I am taking photos I take a long time, more than anything because it is very difficult to take photos when they are flying, you see a lot in the air and when you take the photo, nothing comes out, hahaha.

Blue morphs in flight at  Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón.
Blue morphs in flight, although in reality there may be about 20 butterflies of different species in this photo, but they are not seen.

On my second time a Blue Morpho Butterfly landed on my backpack, I was waiting for a while for its to leave, but nothing, so I continued taking photos all over the place and it there, I sat for a while, I took some selfies until it decided to continue flying.

Butterfly on my backpack.
A selfie with the Blue Morpho Butterfly.

Caterpillars and Chrysalides Room

Here they explain and show us about this metamorphosis, you can see several chrysalides, each one also has a photo of what kind of butterfly it belongs to, so we can see different chrysalis designs, I could also see a moth, which is quite large, ugly and perhaps tall like a skinny wasp honeycomb.

Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón.
Left: the chrysalis with the photo of the butterfly to which they belong and the Tiger Long Wing Butterfly just came out from the chrysalis. Right, moth chrysalis.

You can see and touch the caterpillar of the Owl Butterfly (only touched if the guides indicate it), this caterpillar is quite large and not very attractive, although soft.

The impressive thing is that it can grow quite a lot, but then it shrinks to wrap itself in the chrysalis and become a butterfly.

A group that passed that morning managed to see how a Tiger Long Wing Butterfly came out of the chrysalis, a spectacle of nature, although I was not lucky enough to see it, if I saw it when it was already outside drying its wings.

I saw a caterpillar pooping, it was funny, because they look like eggs, only they fall to the ground hahaha.

Small Owl Caterpillar
Small Owl Caterpillar.

Video Room

Here one of the guides explains to us with the help of a video, the entire life of the butterflies since they are eggs.

It is incredible that these animals spend so much time between eggs, caterpillars and chrysalides to only live a pair of days as butterflies, but in the refuge they manage to live for 4 to 5 weeks.

Although the ideal is that they are free, now this happens because of predators, they even eat them while they are in the chrysalides.

In this butterfly haven they achieve that up to 60% carry out all its stages.

Video Room of Butterfly Haben of El Valle de Antón.
Video Room

The eggs are taken every day and carried to a laboratory to be cared for by predators.

One of the interesting things I learned is that they fight, they kick each other, it can be for a female or even for a plant or branch to lay their eggs.

The process from the time they wrap themselves in the chrysalis until they leave is a work against time, they have to do it as quickly as possible because they can die.

Caligo Eggs- Blue Morpho Butterfly
Caligo Eggs- Blue Morpho Butterfly.

The blue color of the Blue Morpho Butterfly is iridescence, this means that if you see it through the light, the blue color disappears, also with its fluttering it produces an effect that confuses predators.

Interesting Facts of the Butterflies

  • They are bio-indicators, that means that when we see enough butterflies, it is because there is clean air.
  • They are pollinators.
  • The butterflies feed on fruits, nectar, pollen of the plants, water, mineral salts.In the butterfly haven there are 21 species, in the Valle de Antón 450 and in Panama 11,500.
  • They are cold blooded, they need heat to fly.
  • Metaporphosis: eggs, caterpillar, pre-pupa (hung before wrapping), chrysalis and butterfly.
  • In each eye they have 24,000 eyes, with this they have a 360º view (that is why it is difficult to take photos of them, they notice everything).
Male Orange Julia Butterfly.
Male Orange Julia Butterfly. Use its color to appear to be a toxic animal.
  • As caterpillars can eat the equivalent of 700 hamburgers a day for a Human.
  • The caterpillars do not see well, so they use the antenna to smell the food.
  • From caterpillar to butterfly: they are placed upside down and breaks their skin to let out the new one and the new one must harden quickly so that flies and bees do not put parasites on it, inside the chrysalis it dissolves and its DNA begins to form everything again, more or less after 8 days it comes out of the chrysalis, it must hit the proboscis(it comes unstuck, like 2 sticks), it must also go out fast and stretch its wings, otherwise they deform, fall and die. Then it takes about 15 minutes to dry the wings.
  • They lay 40 to 4,000 eggs, but only 2% become a Butterfly.
  • Some caterpillars and butterflies feed on plants that make them toxic to their predators (but not to humans), thus protecting themselves.
  • The moth of the saddled caterpillar is extremely dangerous to humans, it could even cause death.
  • Some have their tricks of defense against predators, be it iridescence, or appear to be excrement or leaves, have designs of eyes, skin or colors of the largest predators, even changing to look like butterflies that are toxic.
  • An interesting fact is that there are plants that simulate having eggs so that butterflies do not lay on them.
Defense of the Caligo – Owl Butterfly at Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón.
Defense of the Caligo – Owl Butterfly. Left: if you see the bottom it simulates being a snake. Right: with open wings or two Owl butterflies together, they pretend to be an Owl.

Things to keep in mind

  • Not all points on plants are fungi, they can be butterfly eggs.
  • Not all caterpillars are dangerous worms, many could be future butterflies.

I love this place so much, it is 100% recommended for the whole family. The staff is trained and can answer all your questions.

It is well located and easy to get to, there used to have a sign, because of the construction of the bike path it is no longer there, but there is still no way to get lost. The visit can take 30 minutes.

At the end of the tour you can get some memories, one of the things I like the most is that with the wings of the dead butterflies they make earrings and pendant.

Malachite Butterfly.
Malachite Butterfly, its name is due to its color similar to the Malachite stone.

Advices

  • Do not touch anything, neither the butterflies nor the plants.
  • If you have an IPhone, you can make video with slow motions, ideal for these fast-moving friends.
  • Preferably do not use sunscreen, perfume or cream, to avoid hurting them, also at the indoors areas. After you can put them on.
  • To see them flying in all their splendor, you can go on a sunny day at noon.

Hours

  • Wednesday to Monday.
  • 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Prices

  • $1.50 children between 1-12 years old.
  • $5.00 adults.
  • 50% discount for retirees and pensioners (Panamanians and residents).
  • 15% discount for disabled people with a license.
Tiger Long Wing Butterfly
Tiger Long Wing Butterfly.

How to get to the Butterfly Haven of El Valle de Antón?

Take the Panamericana Highway and enter through the town of Las Uvas, (near town of San Carlos), from there it will be about 27km to El Valle, once you arrive to the town, continue on the main street until you see the Melo shop (on your right-hand side).

Enter the street on your left-hand and a few meters away you will see the Butterfly Haven signposting, if you go by car or on a small bus you can enter that way and about 50 meters you will have arrived (there is a parking lot).

By bus, take it at the Albrook Bus Terminal in the direction to El Valle de Antón, you can also take it in the town of Las Uvas (at the entrance to the El Valle road), you can get off at Melo store and walk down the street opposite, as 200m you will see the signpost of Butterfly Haven, enter there and another 50m you will be in the Butterfly Haven.

Updated: 2021.

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