Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Butterfly on my Bottom!

We jumped right into our garden bug lessons yesterday with a trip to Butterfly World Project. It is a fabulous resource and well worth a visit, even though it is yet to be completed. By the end of 2012 it is set to be the largest butterfly experience in the world, with a massive 100m biome housing thousands of tropical butterflies. Yet even without the biome the project was a massive hit with my three little garden helpers.

There is currently a small butterfly house, with some tropical butterflies, where on our last visit, Garden Girl managed to hold a butterfly in her hand, an experience she will never forget and which has solidified her interest in butterflies. On this visit, Garden Girl and Garden Boy patiently held out their hands and waited for a butterfly to land, without much success, but luckily for them they were rewarded instead by a butterfly landing on my bottom. They have continued to giggle about this today. They were also astounded to see a giant butterfly. It took quite a lot of persuasion before they believed it was real and not just a cardboard butterfly placed there for display. I'm just pleased it was a slightly smaller butterfly that chose to land on my skirt. Garden Boy was also thrilled to discover some eggs lying on a leaf. When I exclaimed 'Oh, you've found some butterfly eggs', he corrected me by saying, 'No Mummy. Don't be silly. They will be caterpillars first.' I was so proud, as other visitors looked impressed by his knowledge. 

Garden Lass was far more interested in smelling the flowers than catching butterflies, which was something of a relief as I had thought lots of fluttering around her face would panic her. She barely even noticed them, although they probably noticed her, as she pulled leaves and flowers from their plants to take deep sniffs of them. I must apologise to those who planted the entire gardens, as she spent much of the day breathing in the scent of the various flowers she had beheaded. I tried my hardest to keep her from pulling the heads away, I really did, but she had a determined interest which leads me to believe she might have a career in perfumery.

On this visit however, the highlight for me was the leafcutter ants. These are a new addition to the Project and offered a fantastic look at the lives of these highly intelligent creatures. It was amazing to watch the little ants carry pieces of leaf larger than themselves along ropes and branches into their tunnels. I could have remained in this building for much longer watching the busy leaf cutters, had it not been for the tarantala residing in a glass case and watching me the whole time. This forced us to move onto the other insects where we saw snails, crickets, locusts, stick insects and more ants. Garden Lass was delighted by the noise the crickets were making and excitedly quacked back at them, clapping at the same time. (Quacking is her standard response to all animals, except cows who get a mix of quacks and moo's.) Garden Girl and Garden Boy meanwhile were taking a detailed look at all the insects with the magnifying glasses provided.

And then there are the gardens, with treasures hidden around every corner, from walls made from junk, to a fairies bedroom, colourful flowers to jewels and spiders webs to giant plant pots.






The whole Project is engaging and fun and we will definitely become regular visitors, although if the landscape designers are reading this, please could you plant some trees. It was a very hot day and not even the giant ant sculpture was casting shade!

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