Discover the link that Stratford Butterfly Farm has to the Rainforests of Belize and the ancient Maya civilisation whose artefacts have been replicated and are now on display in the Flight Area.
After your visit take a look in the Papillon Gift Shop which offers a wide range of beautiful butterfly and nature inspired gifts for all ages.
Enjoy the unique pleasure of watching hundreds of the world's most spectacular and colourful butterflies flying all around. You can see them feeding and flying in a wonderful tropical environment.
Our landscaped tropical greenhouse is the largest tropical butterfly display in the UK! Throughout the year we have over 250 different species of tropical butterfly from 20 different countries. There are approximately 1,500 free flying individual butterflies, sometimes a few more, sometimes a few less.
Some of the butterflies breed within the Butterfly Farm, the rest are imported from the tropics. All of the places we buy butterflies from are either Conservation projects or Village projects. Butterfly breeding is the main source of income for most of the villagers. These breeding operations have been set up to enable communities to earn a living without causing any damage to the environment and wildlife around them. Not only this good from a conservation point of view, it also allows families all over the tropics to earn a sustainable income and helps to preserve the Rainforest whilst educating our visitors.
We don't just have butterflies in the flight area! There are also a huge selection of tropical plants, these are not just to make it look lovely but to feed the butterflies. Lantana is one of the most important nectar plants we have in the butterfly farm, with its heads of tightly packed blossoms rich in sugary nectar, it is the perfect food source for our butterflies. In Asia where Lantana comes from it is considered a weed!
Watch out Iguanas about!
Keep your eyes peeled for our two resident Iguanas, Stumpy and Princess. They are green Iguanas from South America donated to the Butterfly Farm about 7 years ago. They like to hide up high in the trees and on top of the heaters where they keep a watchful eye on things below and warm their tummies.
There are a number of birds that live in the flight area, they have all been chosen because they are non-insectivorous, they like to eat seeds and fruit and not our butterflies! We have two colourful Indian Ring Necked Parakeets, a couple of African Mousebirds, with distinctive spikey hairstyles and long tail feathers and small ground dwelling birds called Chinese Painted Quail.
In the Discovery Zone you can see all the stages of the butterfly's life cycle, including the egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis and the adult butterfly.
Egg. The first stage is the female butterfly laying beautifully shaped eggs. She lays them on exactly the right leaves for the caterpillars to eat.
Caterpillar. There are all sizes and colours of caterpillars to see, some small, some large, some camouflaged and some a variety of colours. It is worth taking your time and looking closely to find them.
Chrysalis. The chrysalis is another fascinating stage in the life cycle. Inside the chrysalis the miracle of metamorphosis takes place, the caterpillar turning into the beautiful butterfly we see flying around.
As you leave the Discovery Zone you will see the Emerging Case. This is where the chrysalis or pupae, that we import from the tropical butterfly farmers, is hung. We do this by gluing each individual pupa onto sticks, which are then carefully placed in rows within the Emerging Case. This is one of the most important aspects of the farm as it is here that the butterflies emerge from their pupae and prepare their wings for the first flight.
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar
At the beginning of its caterpillar life this squidgy swallowtail caterpillar looks a lot like bird poo. A very clever trick of nature to keep the predators away!
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 soft hairs.
Mini-Beast Metropolis houses one of the largest insect collections in the UK.
Come and see these fascinating creatures up close. You can even take part in our Meet the Mini-Beast handling sessions during the school holidays. Keep an eye on our news section for more information and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed. Handling sessions are also available with our guided tours, available to pre booked groups of 10 or more paying visitors.
Come and see our beetle larvae tank where we breed some of the beetles we have on display. This stage of the life cycle is rarely seen because it's usually underground or hidden in the bark of trees. We also have Goliath beetles, giant flower beetles, sun beetles and domino beetles.
See if you can find our stick insects, their camouflage is brilliant to help them hide from predators. We have long thin ones, short spiky ones and even one of the heaviest stick insects in the world.
Male eating Mantids
Mantids are beautiful and intriguing insects to look at they also have a fearsome reputation in the insect world.
Also in the Metropolis........
It's not just insects in here, we have giant African land snails, millipedes with over 200 legs, crabs, tiny poison arrow frogs, geckos, Colin the skink and Archie the chameleon.