18 February 2013

Butterflies and other beasties

A couple of Sundays ago I spent a very pleasant hour or more at the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre, about 25 kilometres north of Siem Reap.

Common mime
Not only does it have a large netted garden full of tropical flowers with hundreds of butterflies fluttering around, it also has a butterfly breeding programme. 

Egg-covered leaves are collected from the garden each day and stored in plastic tubs in a small propagation area. Once hatched the caterpillars are fed on their favourite plants – and what wonderful colours those caterpillars are, from the camouflage colour of pale green to the bright red and black stripes of warning.

The butterflies are equally varied, some vibrant reds and oranges, others plain black and white but intricately patterned, some large, others small and delicate. All are species native to Cambodia.

Leopard lacewing

The friendly centre guides share their knowledge of the different varieties, explaining the butterfly life cycle and the peculiarities of each species. They’ll also show you their pet scorpions, and their resident population of stick insects, larger than any I’ve seen before. 

Not a butterfly, a yellow moth
By training the residents to farm butterflies and employing locals as staff, the butterfly centre benefits the surrounding community, as well as helping to conserve the butterflies – a win, win situation!

The mother of all stick insects
Leopard lacewing, from above

Another common mime

A common birdwing that had been killed by a spider's bite
Very soon, there will more common evening browns!

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