Every year the Carleton University Biology Department hosts the Annual Biology Butterfly Show. In 2021, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are doing all we can to keep our community safe and to contribute to slowing the progression of COVID-19 in Ottawa and across the country.

Therefore, the 22nd Annual Biology Butterfly Show will be held as a virtual event.

During the 9 days leading into the Thanksgiving weekend, over 1300 live exotic butterflies, representing 41 different species worldwide, will be released into the greenhouses of the Nesbitt Biology building.

In 2021, the public is invited to view these beautiful creatures via live stream tours and can learn more through our online educational videos.

Let’s Talk Science will be connecting with schools and community groups virtually.

The 2020 Butterfly Show was also hosted virtually, and we found that the magic of the butterflies was still felt through the screens of those who were able to participate. We were also able to reach people much further from Ottawa. While we hope that in 2022 the Butterfly Show will be in person again, we know that the virtual format is still able to bring some joy in these difficult times.

The Butterfly Show has always been funded through the generosity of its visitors. To ensure that the Butterfly Show can run successfully in the future, and remain accessible for future generations, we encourage your support of the Butterfly Show with a generous donation!

The Background

Each year, the Butterfly Show costs $6-7 thousand to run. The bulk of that cost is the importing of around 1300 tropical butterflies from around the world.

In 2021, we will be importing tropical butterflies from around the world, as well as setting up equipment that will help you to enjoy the experience from home.

We hope that in future years we will be able to run an in person show again. We need your help to ensure that the Butterfly Show can continue to be accessible for future generations.

The Rollout

Donations to the Butterfly Show help us to sustain the following aspects of the show.

Pupae Importing:

Each year, the 1300 butterflies you see in the Nesbitt Greenhouses have travelled across the world as pupae. The stars of the show make up the majority of the yearly costs, $5-6 thousand.


The Let’s Talk Science presentations are performed by volunteers, who are students from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. The tours are offered free of charge to schools and local community groups, however the images and models used to provide a more interactive learning experience must be purchased by the department.


There are some facility costs that keep the show running each year, such as the butterfly nursery upkeep and signage.

The Impact

Carleton University maintains close ties to the greater Ottawa community. Through events like the Butterfly Show, Carleton University can provide educational experiences beyond the classroom. The Butterfly Show enhances and further showcases the Carleton University campus experience to the patrons of the show who come each year with their families. It is an annual event that many families look forward to around the Thanksgiving season.

By hosting a virtual show in 2021, we can help keep the community safe at the same time we can continue to bring joy to the community in what has been another very difficult year.

In 2021, we have once again partnered with Let’s Talk Science to offer talks to school or community groups who are interested in turning their virtual experience to the Butterfly Show into an even more educational experience. There will also be public presentations live streamed from inside the butterfly greenhouse.

We appreciate all who come year after year. We thank you for continuing to show your support virtually in 2021, and we hope to welcome you back to the Nesbitt Greenhouses in 2022.

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