UPPER WEST SIDE — For those looking for a break from the winter weather, an 80-degree tropical forest filled with 500 busy butterflies awaits.
The American Museum of Natural History will open its annual exhibit, "The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter," this Saturday, Dec. 10.
By constructing a 1,200-foot structure called a vivarium, the museum has recreated the butterflies' natural habitat while giving visitors the chance to walk among them.
Watch as a Forest Mort Blue, a Blue Morpho and a Blue Spotted butterfly feast on oranges:
Butterflies from Florida, Costa Rica, Kenya, Thailand, Malaysia, Ecuador and Australia flutter through the space with their vibrant wings, which function as a "warning color," explained Hazel Davies, the museum's Director of Living Exhibitions.
Brightly colored butterflies are often toxic because they store cyanide in their bodies, she noted.
The colors tell predators "don't eat me or you'll feel really sick," Davies said.
Other butterflies may look more like moths to people because they're trying to camouflage themselves, she added.
Visitors can expect butterflies to land on them and watch as they feast on orange slices and fruit nectar.
"The Butterfly Conservatory is a joyful, enchanting and educational exhibition for both children and adults, and truly transports visitors out of their everyday lives into a magical setting teeming with color and flourishing life," said museum President Ellen Futter.
The exhibit runs through May 29, 2017.