The butterfly is a beautiful insect: whether they’re fluttering in the countryside, settling in our gardens or paintings on the wall. There are over 18,500 recorded butterfly species in the whole world with just 59 species living in England. Butterflies are part of the Lepidoptera class of insects which are characterized by their large scaly wings.
You don’t always have to be out walking to see these wonderful and enticing creatures though; in the UK there are 4 places where you can discover the wonders of the butterfly, and Stratford-upon Avon’s Butterfly Farm is by no means the most spectacular.
A Butterflies Life Cycle
The most studied and popular type of butterfly is the Monarch Butterfly which usually goes through a lifecycle that lasts 6-8 weeks. When a Monarch butterfly hatches its first egg, the natural clock will begin, with the egg stage lasting only 3-4 days during the spring and summer.
After those few days are up, the caterpillar will emerge from the egg, eating milkweed leaves for around two weeks. As the caterpillar starts to grow, it will shed 5 different layers of skin. At this stage, you’ll only be able to identify it’s age by the length and size of the caterpillar.
The third stage of a monarch’s lifestyle is the chrysalis (or pupa) stage. It usually occurs around 18 days after the egg has laid and lasts around 10 days from the time the caterpillar spins its cocoon until the time the full-grown butterfly emerges. If you wanted to tell how old a chrysalis was or identify the stage it was at, you’s be able to tell from the colour of the cocoon as it passes from blue, brown, yellow and orange.
Finally, the monarch butterfly will emerge on the 28th day of the lifecycle and lives around 2-6 weeks. It’s objective is to mate and lay eggs so that the next generation can be hatched, and begin their lifestyle.
At Stratford-upon Avon Butterfly Farm, you can watch this unique life cycle right in front of your eyes with hundreds of the most exquisite and wonderful butterflies hatching, caterpillars crawling and cocoons brewing.
Displays at Stratford
There are 6 different display areas at Stratford-upon Avon Butterfly Park. It’s been around since 1985 and you can find them at Swan’s Nest Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 7LS. The leafy tropical environment is home to so many insects (and reptiles) and is an educational day out for all ages and an exciting trip for families!
01. Flight Area. Enjoy the unique pleasure of watching hundreds of the world’s most spectacular and colourful butterflies flying all around. You can see them feeding and flying in a colourful and exciting tropical environment. Their landscaped greenhouse is the largest tropical butterfly display in the UK and has 250 different species from all around the world which you can see with your very own eyes up-close and personal.
You can expect to see 1,500 free-flying butterflies in the Flight Area, a very exciting and unforgettable nature experience. It’s not all butterflies too – there are also some iguanas roaming around. Have some fun trying to spot them in the warmth of the heaters and up in the trees.
Birds are another animal you can expect to see. But as you might have thought, they’re not a threat to the butterflies, because they only have a diet of seeds and fruit. They have distinctive feathers and beaks which will help you tell them apart!
02. Discovery Zone. As mentioned here, you will have the chance to see the lifecycle process yourself and observe how they grow and hatch to finally become a fully grown butterfly.
03. Minibeast Metropolis. This area of the farm is one of the largest collections of insects and reptiles in the UK! You and your family have the opportunity to meet and handle the mini-beasts during school holidays. There are also some awesome ants who spend their days building their nests.
Beetles are also crawling round deep in the ground, although their lifestyle is rather strange, you may be able to see the beetle eat, mate or collect its prey. Stick insects and mantis’ are both beautiful and intriguing insects who come in very many different shapes and sizes sharing quirky characteristics which hopefully you’ll be able to see for your self… if you wait long enough.
04. The Maya. Discover the fascinating connection that Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm has to the rainforests of Belize and the ancient Maya civilisation! From the Olmec Head, Hallucinogenic Mushrooms statues and more. The historic and exotic sculptures and statues go with the fantastic wild theme.
05. Nature Inspired Gift Shop. Visit their wonderful gift shop for some spectacular butterfly souvenirs such as Children’s Activity Books and Season Tickets. If you’re thirsty after all that learning and spotting, enjoy a chilled drink or an ice-cream.
06. Award Winning Wildflower Garden. Where does it stop?! This wonderful award winning garden you’ll end up in towards the end of the wildlife adventure is full of beautiful flowers and free roaming butterflies.
Their brilliantly informative website gives you the option to take a virtual tour around the Butterfly Garden, if you want to see for your self before you visit, click here!