Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly Farm
A tropical rainforest in the centre of Stratford Upon Avon? Not quite, but the closest you can get to the tropical experience in Stratford is to visit the Stratford Butterfly Farm. When I walked into the flight area I was overwhelmed by the number of butterflies fluttering around me.
The landscaped tropical greenhouse complete with gushing waterfalls, a lake full of enormous fish and a huge range of tropical plants, has over 1,500 free flying butterflies feeding, resting and breeding. Be prepared because this is a tropical environment so it it very humid – hot and sticky!
The Stratford Butterfly Farm is the largest tropical butterfly display in the UK with over 250 different species of tropical butterfly from 20 different countries. Many of the butterflies are bred within the Butterfly Farm and the rest are imported from the tropics. There were also a huge selection of tropical plants to feed the butterflies. There are also a number of birds flying around amongst the butterflies but fortunately they are non-insectivorous preferring to eat the seeds and fruit but not the butterflies!
I didn`t see the two colourful Indian Ring Necked Parakeets or the African Mousebirds with their distinctive spikey hairstyles and long feathers but I did spot the two small ground dwelling birds called Chinese Painted Quail in the Mini-beast Metropolis!
Minibeast Metropolis is home to a fantastic range of spiders, including the Goliath bird eater, one of the worlds largest spiders, all behind the safety of glass. It also has two Amazing Leafcutter Ant Colonies. I loved the ants – there were millions of them all being very industrious.
Come rain or shine enjoy the unique pleasure of discovering hundreds of the world’s most spectacular and beautiful butterflies flying in an exotic environment of tropical blossom with splashing waterfalls and fish-filled pools.
There were millions of ants carrying tiny pieces of leaf and twig slowly making their way backwards and forwards along a tightly twisted rope above my head. I was a little wary that some of the ants may fall from the rope.
Amazing Ants Facts
Ants are believed to make up half of all insects in some areas of the rainforest.
All the workers are female. Males are only produced when creating new colonies – male & female flying ants leave the nest once a year, the females loose their wings and become queens, the males die!
The queen ant is the size of a small mouse and is enveloped in the fungus garden where she eats and lays eggs whilst being tended to by minims (tiny tiny workers). The ant rope measures 15 meters in total but in the wild they can travel up to 250 meters!
Some ants will hitch a ride back on the cut leaves being carried back to the colony and will act as guards against parasitic flies (Phorid flies). Some colonies can contain millions of ants!
The ants don’t eat the leaves, instead the leaf is passed onto specialist workers who chew the leaves, spit them out and defecate on them to promote fungus growth ….it is the fungus the ants feed on. Ants are farmers!
In the Discovery Zone I got to see the stages of the butterfly’s life cycle, including the egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis and the adult butterfly stages as well as some of the worlds largest, spikiest, hairiest and most camouflaged caterpillars. I found out about the plants that are grown at the butterfly farm to feed the butterflies and saw some of the world’s largest and most camouflaged caterpillars with cocoons, giant silk moths and shining pupae hanging on the plants. I was also very fortunate to catch a butterfly hatching from its chrysalis.
The farm is a short walk from the town centre, just over the river Avon foot bridge, opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
I really enjoyed my short visit to the butterfly farm and would highly recommend a visit next time you are in the Stratford Upon Avon area. I loved sitting quietly in the flight zone watching the thousands of butterflies flying around me and landing on me indeed! With the sound of the rushing water from the small waterfall on the pond and the greenery of the foliage and plants all around it was very relaxing. For an enjoyable and educational morning or afternoon the Butterfly farm is a wonderful place to spend a few hours.
Swan’s Nest Lane,
Tel : +44 (0)1789 299 288
Fax : +44 (0)1789 415 878
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