In the Discovery Zone you can see every stage of the butterfly’s fascinating life cycle. The egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis and finally the adult.
Egg. The 1st stage is the female butterfly laying beautifully shaped eggs. She will taste the leaves with her feet to make sure she lays them on exactly the right leaves for the caterpillars to eat.
Look closely at the plants in the Discovery Zone and take a peek at the leaves, you will be amazed at how many eggs you can find!
Caterpillar. There are all sorts of different sizes and colours of caterpillars to see in the Discovery Zone, some small, some large, some camouflaged and some a variety of colours.
It is worth taking your time and looking closely to see them, as they really are quite fascinating!
Pupae. The pupa or chrysalis is another amazing stage in the life cycle.
Inside the pupa, the magic of metamorphosis takes place with the caterpillar transforming into the beautiful butterfly we see flying within the Rainforest Flight Area.
Adult. Metamorphis is now complete and the caterpillar has transformed into the beautiful adult butterfly.
Within the Emerging Case you may discover butterflies hatching from their or pupae!
The Rainforest Flight Area is full of hundreds of adult butterflies in all their beautiful glory and so the life-cycle begins once more.
Moths are often overlooked and under appreciated. In the Discovery Zone you will find out just how beautiful moths can be. Some moths are even more colourful than butterflies!
Take a close look at the cocoons hanging in the display cabinets, you may even see a freshly emerged atlas moth. The tips of the atlas moth wings resemble the head of a snake. The atlas moth will trick any potential predators into thinking it's a snake by quivering it's wing tips at it!
As you leave the Discovery Zone don't miss the Emerging Case as this is where you will discover row upon row of beautiful pupae, hanging like jewels from wooden rods.
The pupae is imported each week in their thousands from butterfly farmers in the tropics. The pupae arrives every Tuesday from Heathrow airport. It is only after each individual pupa has been unpacked and checked for quality that we carefully glue the pupae onto wooden rods. These are then placed in rows within the Emerging Case.
Look closely and you will see how beautiful the pupae are and the differences in colour and size of the various species.
The Emerging Case is one of the most important aspects of the Butterfly Farm as it is here that the magic of metamorphosis takes place. Within the pupa the caterpillar body completely breaks down and the butterfly forms within the caterpillar soup! The adult butterfly will eventually emerge and hang from its pupa and prepare its wings for first flight.
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar
At the beginning of its caterpillar life this squidgy caterpillar looks a lot like bird poo. A clever trick of nature to keep the predators away. As it grows larger it developes a startling resonse to danger. It has a hidden fork like appendage, which mimics a snake tongue. This is called an osmeterium which when danger is sensed it can thrust out towards the threat!</p
Owl Butterfly Caterpillar
This lovely, fat, brown caterpillar is a pest in banana plantations in South America. Just a few of these caterpillars can eat all the leaves of a banana plant in a few weeks! From a distance the caterpillar looks like it has a row of spikes down the middle of its back, but on closer inspection they are actually small hairs!</p
Monarch butterflies can be found in many parts of the world but it is the 'Eastern Population' in the USA that are famous for the amazing migration between Canada and Mexico. The caterpillars feed on Milkweed which makes them toxic to predators. Their bold colour combination of yellow and black warns predators of their nasty taste!
The Discovery Zone is also the place where during school holidays you can take part in Meet the Mini-Beasts handling and Pupae and Butterfly Life-Cycle demonstrations.
All the family can take part in these fun but informative handling sessions and demonstrations. They are led by members of our friendly and knowledgeable education team.
For more information on dates and times keep an eye on the latest news and events section.
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