17 Jun 2016

Our tropical house metamorphosis

Laura Jones

This July we will be welcoming a suite of tropical butterflies into our Tropical House. Before we can safely keep them however, we need to modify the house so it’s friendly to both butterflies and visitors.

The first step in transforming our house was turning the temperature dial up to 26°C and increasing the humidity: conditions perfect for tropical butterflies. This week, the work has started on installing nets, which will stop the butterflies from flying high up into the roof, and plastic curtains at the doors to prevent them from escaping outside. We’ll also be putting mirrors in soon, so visitors will be able to double check that they aren’t ferrying any sneaky butterfly stowaways.

Carl Holmes, horticulturalist and our new Butterfly Keeper, has been busy visiting and getting training at other butterfly houses. He’s also responsible for all the new planting that’s filling up the beds; important sources of nectar for the butterflies, such as the star-shaped Pentas lanceolata.

Meanwhile in the Science building, we’ve been putting together a butterfly primer pack for staff and volunteers. It’s caused the words, ‘look at this cool butterfly‘ to be used with increasing frequency in the office. We can’t wait until we can say it to visitors!