Posted in Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

A trip to Butterfly World

En route to Pembrokeshire in Wales, Simon and I enjoyed spending time in a wondrous world where the unusual, exotic and vibrant reigned supreme. We humans were giants wandering through a cloud of fluttering and gliding butterflies, who went about their everyday business of travelling, feeding, mating and often simply resting.

It was well worth stopping off at the Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo at Ross-on-Wye, near the Welsh/English border. After paying a reasonable entry fee at the reception-shop, we were loaned laminated identification sheets about butterflies and a magnifying glass.

As it was October, and nearing the end of butterfly season in Britain, Simon enquired, “Will we still be able to see them?”

“Oh yes, there’s plenty to see,” was the response.

Malachite butterflies come from Central and South America and have green markings underwing
(hence the name)

Before we entered the world of butterflies, we watched a short information film (did you know a butterfly landing on you meant good luck?!). It also urged us to look in the mirror before we left to make sure there weren’t any butterflies clinging on to us. We then walked through the plastic screen into a warm, tropical environment, akin to a hot greenhouse with pathways and tropical flora. The minute we stepped onto the path, we were met by bright blue butterflies fluttering by, so many I lost count.

“They’re blue morpho,” I concluded, looking at the info we were given. I’m disappointed that despite the morpho being the most numerous and the most iridescent, I hadn’t taken any pictures of their radiant colours. Typical!

The vivid blues were the most obvious but as our eyes acclimatised to the world of butterflies, we encountered more camouflaged varieties flying past or sitting among the foliage, most notably the almost transparent glasswing. This unusual variety comes from the rainforests of Central and South America. They lay eggs on nightshade plants, which glasswing caterpillars eat. Needless to say, both adult and caterpillars are poisonous.

The Flame – reminiscent of a superhero’s name – was another colourful type, while a group of blue morphos (the under side can be seen in the picture below, with their owl-like eye spots) were spotted gorging on a ripened banana feast. Yum!

We saw pairs mating, butterfly eggs and young caterpillars – many of the important stages of life for these fascinating insects could be seen in this hot house. I have no idea what variety of butterfly the eggs and caterpillars are but I think it might be great yellow mormons mating?

Alas, it was time to leave and say our farewells to the beautiful creatures, making sure we didn’t take any new friends with us. It was an uplifting experience and it made me realise how butterflies always bring a smile to my face – and judging by the other visitors, I’m not the only one.

I think this may be a Mexican longwing… If I’m wrong, please correct me!
Pictures: Simon Hunter

Fact of the Day

Lepidopterans (butterflies) pass through four distinct stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Butterflies and Moths by Sally Morgan

Author:

Interested in environmental issues, wildlife, spirituality, gardening, self-sufficiency and mini-adventures. There are two blogs, one is https://mysabbatical2014.wordpress.com/ and the other, more recent one, is - https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/ ☺️

14 thoughts on “A trip to Butterfly World

    1. I’m terrible at photographing butterflies in the wild. I was lucky to take pictures of them at my buddleia recently but usually they fly too fast, or if they’re resting they move when I go near. When I was at the Butterfly Zoo, I thought of the Butterfly House in Lancaster. I’ve never visited even though I’ve gone to Lancaster many times, even to Williamson Park. I think it’s still open so I must pay a visit sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a wonderful place. I didn’t expect to see so many butterflies and thought I’d have to actively look for them but they were everywhere. ☺ Another reader (on another blog post) said he hadn’t seen many butterflies (in the wild) this year either, and I hadn’t until much later in the year. Hopefully we’ll see more next year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope butterflies aren’t suffering the consequences of climate change too. Fingers crossed they return. I would love to go to the butterfly event at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. Maybe after COVID crisis is over and I’m retired and can go during the week. They release thousands of them in a very warm, large conservatory which is full of blooms. It has been closed since the beginning of COVID and they are renovating it until 2023 anyway. It sounds fun and I hope to go one day.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Envious! It sounds like a magical experience. Knowing how excited I became seeing some Monarch butterflies in rural Vermont on their migration south last month, I suspect I’d be in such awe of all the species at Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo, they’d have to carry me out!

    Liked by 1 person

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