How amazing it is to see thousands of butterflies up close! I was not prepared to be so stunned when I entered the huge enclosure, but found myself speechless as I realised what I was looking at. A guide was speaking to me, but I could not even hear what she said, let alone reply …. I was absorbed in the butterflies at once.

Butterflies are fed a special nectar, which attracts them to the feeding stations. Some, like the fabulous electric blue Ulysses butterfly close their wings when they land, so they blend into their surroundings better and survive a little longer. This means that all the photographers, and that is almost everyone these days, spend ages trying to get a shot of their brilliant blue wings.

Can you tell this is the same butterfly as the brownish one above? This time the wings are open, and not fluttering. We were shown how eggs are collected from the plants on which they are laid, and taken into the breeding laboratory, where everything is sterilised to prevent disease. About 90% of the collected eggs hatch and are raised to maturity, whereas in the wild the rate of success is about 2%.

Eggs are scraped into petrie dishes …

caterpillars are carefully moved onto fresh food plants every day ….

until they are ready to pupate, and then emerge as new butterflies. About 2000 butterflies are released into the Sanctuary every week.

Another Ulysses butterfly with wings closed …. and below, the Queen of the collection, a female Cairns Birdwing butterfly.


This extraordianry creature is the male Cairns Birdwing butterfly, Australia's largest endemic butterfly. When the wings are open it is mostly green. Males are smaller than females, who don't fly much, but save their strength to lay their eggs after mating.

Children of all ages absolutely loved it …. showing everyone the butterflies that perched so graciously on their fingers, heads, clothing, backpacks …anywhere!!

What a treasure!

There are lots more butterlfies to share later!


19 thoughts on “Butterflies

  1. beautiful – especially love the child in the hat shot and have been besotted by butterflies seemingly forever. Sanctuaries are wonderful places to see them but back in the wild they are disappearing so fast

  2. Once, at Brookfield Zoo, we were in the Butterfly Greenhouse; i was in heaven with my camera, having the time of my life… until we heard about the crashing of planes into the Twin Towers; we were there on 9/11.

    • a shocking memory Tom …. the madness of human beings contrasting with the delicate beauty of butterflies …. at times like that you wonder how such violence can exist …. yet in duality it has to, as everything has its opposite …

  3. They’re such dreamy things (at this stage of their life-cycle!) and must have been terrific to wander around while they wafted in front of your camera! Sri Lanka used to be renowned for its myriad butterflies but sadly the introduction of modern pesticides has been deadly to them too. Up north, where things are a bit behind the times because of the war, we saw hundreds of thousands, in slowly moving clouds … it was incredible. Looking forward to more colourful posts from the sanctuary. πŸ™‚

    • that sounds incredible Meredith, thousands in clouds!!! there is a strong movement around the world to ban pesticides that kill bees, so eventually we might manage to become more butterfly/caterpillar friendly too …. it is possible to live with nature … we will rediscover the way πŸ™‚

    • so true bluebee, I have no negative feelings towards moths, but my husband has a childhood aversion to them … dark and menacing … moths flying out of the wardrobe and other spooky events!

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