The Most Beautiful Butterflies in Costa Rica and Where to Spot Them

Costa Rica is so enchanted that nearly 18% of the world’s butterfly species are fluttering here. Butterflies are so abundant in Costa Rica that they can be seen in every part of the country and in every ecosystem, including out in the ocean. There are approximately 1,200 different species of butterflies in Costa Rica, and while all of them are beautiful, a few species really stand out from the rest. These are those special species.

Blue Morpho Butterfly

The blue morpho butterfly is by far the most iconic and alluring butterfly in all of Costa Rica. It is one of the largest butterfly species in the world and has a wing span reaching up to eight inches across. Their eye-catching iridescent blue wings make them the true jewel of the forest. They can be found in forests up to 1,800 meters above sea level and on both coasts in Costa Rica.

An interesting fact about the blue morpho butterfly is that like Rio Celeste’s mystical opaque blue waters, blue morpho wings aren’t actually pigmented the blue that you see; it is an optical illusion.

Glass Wing Butterfly

There are 64 species of glass wing butterflies. As you can guess from the name, glass wing butterflies have transparent wings. They are a migratory butterfly, but Costa Rica is right in their migratory range. They can be found almost anywhere that is between 500 and 1,600 meters above sea level, but they prefer more open terrain.

Owl Butterfly

The owl butterfly is a brilliantly patterned and massive butterfly. What makes them unique and where they get their name from is the giant owl eye-like spots on their wings. They can be found in lowland forests and are especially attracted to the sugary juice from fruits like pineapples, oranges, and mangoes.

Julia Butterfly

The Julia butterfly’s wings resemble a magnificent and fiery sunset. They flourish in open areas and in the canopy of forests from sea level to 1,500 meters on both the Caribbean and Pacific slope. They are very alert and can rapidly fly away, so if you see one take a quick look because in the blink of an eye they might be gone.

White Angled Sulphur Butterfly

The white angled sulphur butterfly is a true master of disguise. It’s angelic sea foam green wings resemble leaves. If you weren’t actively looking for this gorgeous butterfly, you would surely miss it amongst the foliage. They typically thrive in the tropical dry forests in Guanacaste.

While you can see butterflies anywhere and everywhere in Costa Rica, if you are interested in seeing a lot of different types of butterflies in one place and learning about them as well, there are three amazing places to do just that.

The Butterfly Farm in La Guacima

The Butterfly Farm in La Guacima was the very first butterfly exhibit in all of Central America. The town of La Guacima is completely dedicated to butterfly conservation. There are daily tours offered where you can learn all about the native butterfly species of Costa Rica and the conservation efforts in place in this butterfly-loving town.

The Butterfly Observatory at La Paz Waterfall Gardens 

The Butterfly Observatory at La Paz Waterfall Gardens is home to over 4,000 free-flying butterflies. There is an on-site laboratory that breeds 25 native species of butterflies and is where you can learn about and see all of the different life cycle stages. After visiting this fascinating observatory, you can visit the waterfalls, wild cat sanctuary, hummingbird garden, frog exhibit, and serpentarium that are part of La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

The Butterfly Observatory in El Castillo

Located near the world-famous Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, the Butterfly Observatory is an education and research center that is home to the largest butterfly exhibit in Costa Rica. The observatory also has an impressive collection of frogs, insects, and orchids.