Butterfly islands

  • Faulbaum-Bläuling

From admirals to brimstones. Six butterfly islands have been installed at the zoo, sponsored by the nature conservation initiative “Flowering Austria (“Blühendes Österreich”). Many butterflies feel at home among the nectar plants and the forage plants for their caterpillars. The first brimstone appeared shortly after the black alder and buckthorn were planted. Almond trees and blackthorn attract swallowtails, while dovetails prefer fennel. Europe’s largest butterfly can also be admired at Schönbrunn: wild pear and wild apple trees were especially planted for the giant peacock moth. 

Austria is home to 4100 butterfly and moth species, making it one of the most species-rich countries in Central Europe. Nonetheless, the populations of many butterfly species are threatened. The butterfly islands provide a wealth of information on the various species for zoo visitors, for example about the habitats that they require and expecially tips about what everyone can do for butterflies back home.

The butterfly island sites at the zoo

  • elephants
  • coatis
  • pet park
  • giraffe park
  • next to the Aquarium-Terrarium House on the path to the ORANG.erie
  • behind the Rainforest House

Animal caretaker and biologist Rupert Kainradl: "I discovered my love for butterflies back when I was a kid. Unfortunately, over the years I have come to realize that the species diversity and abundance of butterflies are decreasing. It takes only a little bit of effort to quickly improve the environment for butterflies. Only shortly after we installed our butterfly island next to the Aquarium-Terrarium House, the first swallowtail laid its eggs."

Tips for a butterfly-friendly environment

  • Select the right plants.
    Your plants should provide butterflies, bees and bumblebees with nectar. This includes the catchfly, zinnia, verbena, hyssop, fennel, field scabious, aubrietia, phlox, daphne and summer lilac. So-called double blossoms – flowers with numerous petals – do not provide any food.
  • The caterpillar stage of many butterflies depends directly on specific plants:
    Chapman’s Blue – sainfoin
    Queen of Spain fritillary – field pansy
    Marbled white – various meadow grasses
    Painted lady (thistle butterfly) – thistle
    Swallowtails – umbellifers such as fennel, dill or wild carrots as well as dittany
    Southern festoon – birthworts
    Scarce swallowtail – sloe (blackthorn), hawthorn, peach
  • Treat yourself to a flower meadow.
    You’ll enjoy the colorfulness, the animals are surrounded by natural living conditions, and it’ll require lots less work than an English lawn.
  • Wherever possible, let your nettles stand.
    Small tortoiseshells, peacock moths, red admirals and map butterflies are entirely dependent on them, and the caterpillars of 20 others probably rely on them for food.
  • Don’t keep your garden too tidy.
    A close-cropped “golf lawn” and meticulously manicured flower beds are counterproductive for species diversity. Letting nature gain the upper hand in a section of your garden provides animals with habitat and leaves you with more leisure time to enjoy your yard.

App "Schmetterlinge Österreichs" (Butterflies Austria)

Regardless of whether in your own garden, while strolling through the park or during a school excursion: The App “Schmetterlinge Österreichs” allows you to report and identify the butterflies you spot. 140 native butterfly species are represented by photographs and short descriptions. This is the easy way to contribute to Austria’s largest butterfly portal and help create a nationwide Citizen Science Project. to the Schmetterlings-App