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What's new at the Museum

4 Posts tagged with the caterpillars tag
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We say farewell to our summer beauties this weekend on Sunday evening when the Sensational Butterflies outdoor exhibition closes for another year. This has been the sixth Museum butterfly exhibition and once again it's been a sensational hit with visitors.

 

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'What's great this year,' says Luke Brown, our butterfly house manager, 'is that in addition to our usual summer tourists, we've seen an increase in returning visitors.

 

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'Butterfly numbers have been higher than ever throughout the run of the exhibition and and we've spotted as many as 1,000 butterflies in one day. The diversity of species has been really rich too. The house can accommodate more than 1,000 happily, but that's a good limit for our nectar supplies.'

 

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Darting through the hothouse one last time today - and it is hot inside, be warned - there seem to be many of the bigger species fluttering around and, in particular, different swallowtails (above). And I don't think I've seen such a gathering of owl butterflies on the feeding table (below).

 

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One of the highlights we'll all remember about this summer's exhibition were the pictures of HRH Prince George's first birthday taken at Sensational Butterflies - the Duchess of Cambridge is our Patron of course. And we hope he'll be back again for his second and many more.

 

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On Sunday evening, the butterfly house team of staff and volunteers will work until sundown and then from first light on Monday to pack up all the inhabitants, who then wing their way over to Longleat in Wiltshire. Their next hothouse, in fact, used to belong to the Museum and was taken over by Longleat in 2008.

 

Luke flies off to Malta and after that Kuwait for more international butterfly projects and he'll be back next spring when our 2015 butterflies exhibition is due to open again.

 

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Stepping into our outdoor butterfly house has been one of the most popular summer sensations at the Museum. The hot, sunny days have helped to keep our tropical high-fliers active and abundant.

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The Sensational Butterflies exhibition closes this Sunday, 15 September. It's been a family favourite for visitors during the summer months.

 

Last weekend I visited the Sensational Butterflies exhibition once again and was lucky to catch a silk moth in all its splendour, newly emerged inside the hatchery, surrounded by bewitched youngsters. Among the luxurious undergrowth, hanging precariously from banana leaves, were little furry owl butterfly caterpillars and the zebra butterflies were everywhere.

 

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Leaving soon - the Sensational Butterflies house

 

Just today, Luke Brown, our butterfly house manager, told me that a new type of owl butterfly has appeared recently in the house for the first time. Look out for Caligo atreus (below left) on your visit. You can tell it from other owl butterflies by its vibrant colours.

 

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Highlghts of the exhibition in the heat of the summer included the monster Atlas moths and other almost-as-large moth pupae (below).

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You have until 17.30 on Sunday 15 September to get to Sensational Butterflies here at the Museum. After Sunday evening, all the butterflies will be going to another butterfly house (probably Longleat) and the house will be kept in storage for another year…

 

Until then, there's still time to enter our free prize draw to win a sleepover at the Museum and tweet your own butterfly and moth photos to @NHM_London to be pinned on our Sensational Butterflies Pinterest board.

 

Thanks to last month's Pinterest winner, Martin, whose fab photo was drawn from the Jul-Aug entries.

 

Once the butterflies leave, more wildlife will be coming soon to the Museum in the shape of the eagerly-anticipated Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 exhibition, which opens on 18 October.

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Talking of butterflies

Posted by Rose Jun 7, 2013

Outside the Museum there are now about 700 free-flying tropical butterflies enjoying the exotic undergrowth of our Sensational Butterflies house. 'In 6 weeks there may be more than 1,000,' our butterfly house manager Luke Brown tells me excitedly, with news of the first zebra butterfly larvae appearing. These should metamorphose into 100s of adult butterflies over the next few weeks.

 

The enchanting yet fleeting stars of our butterfly show never cease to captivate us and this Sunday, Luke will be giving visitors to the Museum an extra flutter in his free talk in the Attenborough Studio. The half-hour talk, A House of Butterflies, runs at 12.30 and again at 14.30 on 9 June.

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Meet Heliconius charitonia commonly known as the zebra butterfly, and Luke Brown (below) commonly known as our butterfly house manager, in our butterfly house and find out more about both at our free talk this weekend. Close up zebra courtesy of Inzilbeth.

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Accompanied by colleague Kerry, Luke's talk will explore some of our most-loved species including his own personal favourite, the zebra butterfly, Heliconius charitonia (pictured above). He hopes to bring along some caterpillars, eggs and specimens (but no live butterflies as they might not like the lights in the studio) and talk a little about the history of the butterfly house and the exhbition itself.

 

The first butterfly house arrived here in 2008 and has become a regular spring-summer annual attraction at the Museum, following a brief absence last year. This year's exhibition which opened at the end of March has been the most successful to date.

 

A butterfly fan since he was a little boy, Luke asked for a greenhouse for his sixth Christmas and ended up running his own company, The Butterfly Gardener Ltd and putting on butterfly shows all over the world. He looks forward to the continued success of Sensational Butterflies and taking his passion further afield to places like the Middle East and Brazil, with a personal project planned for the south coast.

 

Drop into the talk if you can and especially if you're visiting the Sensational Butterflies exhibition. Go on your own butterfly trail through the Museum taking in the Cocoon building and the Wildlife Garden nearby.

 

Don't forget to send in any great photos of butterflies wherever you may snap them and from inside Sensational Butterflies to our Pinterest board for a chance to win some butterfly goodies.  My recent favourites are of the glasswing and butterfly shoes, and congratulations to last month's competition winner.

 

Find out about visiting Sensational Butterflies and tickets and other butterfly events

A House of Butterflies is on 9 June and Butterflies in Disguise is on 15 June

Check out The Butterfly Gardener website

 

Get help with identifiying butterflies and caterpillars

 

If you can't make it to the Museum for our free events, we also webcast some live. Look out for these talks next week: The World I Want and Extinct Ice Age Giants

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It's always a pleasure to announce the opening of the butterfly house outside on the East lawn. And I am so glad the sun shone today when the Sensational Butterflies exhbitiion was unveiled officially to the public. I know the butterflies inside the butterfly house love it so when it does.

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Sensational Butterflies opened today, 12 April, on the Museum's front lawn

New features in this year's exhibition like the butterfly puddle (below), cocoon handling and a crawl-through chrysalis, are just some of the things to delight children and adults alike.

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Left: The hatchery in the butterfly house, where butterfly life begins. Right: Butterfly puddle, where male butterflies sip

But really it's about the butterflies themselves. Watching the different tropical species flutter around so gracefully in all their glorious colours, shapes and sizes, while you marvel at how they sense the world. Trying to identify species as you spot them - there are handy identification charts around to refer to.

 

Remember to get your butterfly stamper card stamped as you go through each of the five sensory zones. You can pick one up at the ticket desk entrance. Outside in the garden, things are beginning to grow and you can find gardener's tips for attracting butterflies.

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There are over 10 different species of swallowtail butterfly (left) in the house this year and as in previous years, blue morphos (right) are in great abundance.

 

Have a look at the exhibition highlights slideshow to see some of the reasons why you should visit our butterfly exhibition this year.

 

Enjoy the Sensational Butterflies highlights in the slideshow

 

Sensational Butterflies is open all through the summer and I'll be updating you with news along the way.

 

When you leave the butterfly house, check out the butterfly gift shop. If you go with children, of course they won't let you leave until at least one pair of deely boppers is on someone's head.

 

Tickets for the exhibition are £3.50 each and children aged three and under get in free.

 

You can book tickets online or buy them at the butterfly house ticket booth.

 

Another nice thing about today's exhibition opening is the news that a new butterfly species from Peru, the zebra-like ringlet butterfly, has been uncovered in the Museum's collections by Blanca Huertas, our butterfly curator. Splendeuptychia mercedes differs from its closest relatives by having broad stripes on its wings, resembling that of a zebra’s.

 

'Despite it not being the first time that I have identified a new butterfly species, it is still exciting,’ says Blanca. ‘Almost half of the world’s butterfly species are found in South America, and it is amazing we are still finding new ones there.’

 

Read the news story to find out about the new zebra-like ringlet butterfly discovery