The tour begins with a 25-minute film that gives an introduction as to what will be seen and discussed with the guide. Through the use of macro photography and perfect timing, the various stages and processes ofthe butterfly life cycle are shown in detail, normally unavailable to the human eye. The film is excellent in providing everyone with a common base of vocabulary and concepts and helps answer the most common questions.
From the film room, visitors proceed with a knowledgeable guide to the export office. On export days, the sorting, packing and export of the pupae can be seen. Questions such as, "Who buys butterflies?" "Who are the butterfly breeders?" "How is butterfly breeding beneficial to conservation?" are addressed.
After an explanation on the exportation of butterflies, the tour proceeds to The Butterfly Garden. In an enclosed tropical garden where perhaps over a thousand butterflies live their lives, feeding, mating and laying eggs. Guides may identify the most beautiful of Costa Rica's butterflies, point out the females ovipositing their eggs on host plants and feeding on flowers. Visitors may touch the legs of butterflies and discover how they hold on to plants or try to find the lottery number on their wings. Topics such as the role of butterflies in nature, their defense mechanisms and those of their host plants are but a sampling of the many themes discussed.
Once the eggs are laid, the larvae (caterpillars) emerge and need to be reared on their specific host plants. The tour then proceeds to view the amazing metamorphosis of the caterpillar forming the pupae where their bodies change from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. The entire cycle of the metamorphosis is shown and the early morning tours may even see the butterflies emerging from their chrysalides and taking off for their maiden flight.