Christmas visitors are expected by many families on holiday weekends, but the Barbour family, of Wilton, never expected a butterfly.

“We found it in the family room on Christmas Eve morning, around 10 a.m.,” said Carol Barbour, who was surprised to see the creature in the dead of winter. They have usually flown south well before now.

“We reached out to a couple of different sources who know more about butterflies, like the science teacher at Wilton High School, who said it may have come in on our Christmas tree, in chrysalis form, and in the warmth of the house it hatched and flew from the living room to the family room, where my daughter found it,” she said.

Her daughter, Katherine, 18, has her own ideas about the arrival of the butterfly, which they believe is a yellow swallowtail.

“They say seeing a red cardinal is a visit from a loved one who has pass, and seeing a butterfly has the same meaning,” said Katherine.

“It probably was my grandfather saying hello because Christmas was his favorite holiday.”

The family spent two days with the winged visitor. The butterfly stayed in the bathroom overnight and flitted around.

They then gave it to the Wildlife In Crisis center in Weston, where it is living now.

“I assume it came in on a Christmas tree imported from the south,” said Peter Reid, assistant director of Wildlife In Crisis.

Reid is familiar with other southern creatures, such as frogs and lizards, appearing in Connecticut homes during the winter because of plants people have bought. The critters were hiding in the soil.

“Then they’re in the house so it’s a good warm temperature for them,” he said.

The mystery butterfly is now eating meals of nectar at his new home.