The world’s best loved insects – butterflies. As soon as I walked into the Bribie Island Butterfly House, a sense of calm enveloped me. Founder Ray Archer says “Butterflies are beautiful and very peaceful insects” and I can attest to that.
This tranquil not-for-profit organisation was founded by Ray and Delphine Archer who sold their business Olive Products Australia and moved to beautiful Bribie Island, off the south-east coast of Queensland, so Ray could devote time to his passion for breeding and raising butterflies.
I’d like to take you on a stroll through the butterflies domain. But first we will learn a few facts from the Nursery before entering their airy, sun-filled, flower-perfumed enclosure.
A LESSON OR TWO ON BUTTERFLIES . . .
- A female butterfly may lay between 100 to 200 eggs, and within a week or so a caterpillar will hatch.
- A caterpillar breathes through tiny holes in its sides and will eat its own weight in leaf material every day until the final skin is discarded and the chrysalis hardens.
- Inside the chrysalis, metamorphosis continues as the butterfly is formed and this can take weeks, months or sometimes years.
- When the final stages of the caterpillar are complete, the newly formed adult butterfly will emerge, needing a few hours to dry its wings before taking flight.
- Butterflies don’t have a mouth, they use their proboscis like a straw to drink nectar from flowers.
- Butterflies have two large compound eyes which offer a wide visual field and extreme colour vision.
- The two antennae on a butterfly’s head help with navigation and detecting plant aromas and a prospective mate.
AND THE ONE YOU WILL BE TESTED ON . . .
- Butterflies are insects in the macrolepidopteran clade Rhopalocera from the order Lepidoptera.
Ready to go inside? You have to go slow because butterflies don’t dive-bomb you like mosquitoes. Silent wings flutter by, difficult to photograph, I marvel at their fragility.
Photos left to right—Plant-filled entry; a vine chock-full of happy butterflies; misty air rises from a vaporizer; a Common Crow, why that name?; a Swamp Tiger against the blue sky; newly hatched Monarch; oops, there’s two Orchard Swallowtails mating, best move on . . .
NEXT I NOTICED QUIRKY THINGS TUCKED AROUND THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE . . .
Hanging pot planters and gumboots stuffed with plants.
A rather clandestine bubbler and a secret butterfly door.
Inspirational quote and landing pad stocked with nutritious butterfly food.
This lady (below) had to make sure she was butterfly-free before leaving. The butterflies landed on hair and hats. Interestingly, they stayed well clear of the heavy black plastic doors, perhaps because their focus is on light, bright colours.
Before departing I visited the plant section where butterfly-friendly plants (see chart) were available for purchase. There is no cafe and no merchandising, and nobody telling visitors The Rules. The only suggestion is to leave your worries in a bin at the door. Quite a refreshing visit in more ways than one!
The Bribie Island Butterfly House exists to provide a sense of purpose and lasting friendships among their volunteers, to offer visitors an enjoyable and educational visit in a peaceful environment and to help the disadvantaged via donations to charities.
Grow a patch of dandelions! Check out Lyn’s wonderful UK Butterflies And Garden blog. Pledge to stop using manufactured pesticides! Around my area, the green tree frog and butterfly populations have severely decreased due to the rise in toxic garden herbicides and pesticides. Think natural, not noxious!
And, of course, my avatar is a hand-drawn butterfly.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward