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Cape Coral Living Magazine

Butterflies Abound At Rotary Park

Jan 02, 2024 08:00AM ● By Ann Marie O’Phelan

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Anderson. 

There’s nothing more fascinating than watching the wings of colorful butterflies float from blossoming flower to flower. At the Tom Allen Butterfly House at Rotary Park Environmental Center in Cape Coral, you can enjoy the experience in more abundance. Butterflies like the Florida State Butterfly, the Zebra Longwing, are often fluttering about. 

“In January, monarchs, zebras, and atalas are generally in the House or nearby,” says Cheryl Anderson, curator of Tom Allen Butterfly House. 

The House offers free 30-minute guided tours every Monday, Friday, and Saturday at 10:30 am. There is no need to sign up–just show up! The tour guides explain the different butterflies, their caterpillars, and host plants. 

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Anderson.

“Kids can hold a caterpillar if available and meet the resident red-footed tortoise, Captain Redfoot,” adds Anderson. 

On Friday mornings at 10 a.m., kids and adults can walk with Captain Redfoot. Although the tours are free, “donations are gratefully accepted and are used to purchase more plants for the hungry caterpillars,” states Anderson. You can also view a live webcam of the Butterfly House at

The 97-acre park offers hiking trails, a playground, ponds, bird watching, a viewing tower, educational activities, seminars, events, and an environmental center with a small collection of reptiles, fish, and other creatures. The Tom Allen Butterfly House at Rotary Park Environmental Center, 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral, 239-549-4606,

The Butterfly House was established in 2009 and maintained by volunteers from the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife who work to “…preserve and enhance the habitats of protected wildlife species and to educate the community about Cape Coral’s wildlife resources,” says Anderson. Other animals the group works to protect are bald eagles, manatees, and gopher tortoises. 

The group also hosts the annual Burrowing Owl Festival. This year, it’s held on Saturday, February 24, from 10 am to 4 pm at Rotary Park. The festival offers vendors, children’s crafts, live animals, food & beverages, and wildlife tours. For more information, contact Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife at 239-980-2593

Ann Marie O’Phelan is a SW Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.