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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Butterfly House at Landmark Adventure Park, Carrbridge April 29

 By Pete Moore

34 folk – almost certainly a record turn-out for a Highland branch event - met at Landmark on a cold and overcast day but looking forward to warming up in the hot and humid climate of the newly constructed butterfly house! There were too many folk to go round in one group, so we split into two parties. While the first group were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Butterfly House, the second group looked through a moth trap that had been run on site the previous night. They then had tea/coffee and a chat before it was time to swap the groups over.

Blue Morpho Malachite

Blue Morph underwings and Malachite by Emma from the Butterfly House

The butterfly house: What an amazing place! As soon as you step inside you are struck by the hot and humid tropical climate. And then you are struck by the sight of many large, exotic and colourful butterflies fluttering through the building or perched on flowers, foliage and feeding stations.  As someone who has spent a lot of time searching for fast-moving, restless and very elusive tropical butterflies in their natural habitat, I was amazed by the fantastic close-up views that we had. Within minutes, a huge Blue Morpho landed right in front of me with its wings spread open. It was a photographer’s paradise, once the lenses had stopped steaming up!

There are up to 40 species of butterflies in the house, all of them colourful and/or spectacularly marked with Blue Morpho and the “Owls” perhaps the most striking.

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho by Audrey Turner

Ailie Brown, who manages the butterfly house, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour, covering all aspects of running the facility. This included rearing pupae, feeding the butterflies, managing the plants and controlling pests. Many thanks to Ailie and also to her colleagues Emma and Skye for being so informative and enthusiastic. If you haven’t been to the butterfly house, then I would recommend a visit.

Emerald SwallowtailOwl Butterfly

Emerald Swallowtail and Owl Butterfly by Audrey Turner

The moths: It had been a cold night outside so there weren’t many moths in the traps. However, there were 26 moths of 7 species so it could have been a lot worse. They were Brindled Beauty, Early Tooth-striped, Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab, Engrailed, Red Chestnut and Diurnea fagella, all common spring species. Not half as spectacular as the butterflies inside but it’s not all about looks…. these are tough Scottish beasties that can withstand a Highland spring!

 

 

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