The current Butterfly World is the caterpillar stage of ones man’s vision to build an enormous butterfly refuge with Eden project sized dome on the outskirts of St Albans. The huge groundworks visible at the centre of the site show the scale of his ambition but do rather detract from what would otherwise be a rather lovely view.
Currently there is one small tropical butterfly house housing exotic butterflies but if holding giant snails, cockroaches or stick insects is your idea of a treat you should make your way instead to the Insect House where daily handling sessions are on offer. Cockroach handling was inexplicably popular with the young children as, less surprising, was the comprehensive outdoor play area. We were content to watch the leaf-cutter ant colony.
In truth the gardens were not at their best when we visited in early spring – the butterflies they are meant to encourage are out in force in Summer, but the gardener we spoke to was very enthusiastic about the habitat they were providing for the butterflies in their slightly less glamorous caterpillar state.
Butterfly World aims to be as much about information and preservation as it does about admiring the pretty flying things, it is also desperately trying to raise the money to complete the project.
Butterfly World gardener Rupert Tyrrell is passionate about the conservation work
“ Every penny of profit is put back into the development and education programme. By keeping the entrance fee relatively low families can come back again and again and every time they do we get more funds for helping preserve indigenous butterflies”
“We are constantly working to improve different areas but always leave some parts untouched to create wildlife corridors.” adds Rupert,” We are reseeding the wildflower meadows at the moment. They have been created specifically to attract British butterflies and we have seen some success in increasing numbers, especially the rare Small Blue. The presence of butterflies indicates a flourishing ecosystem and habitats for many other insects and animals. Spring is a turning point here – it’s at its best towards the end of June when the meadow is stunning and there are literally clouds of butterflies flying around the gardens.”
But it’s not all about butterflies
“As well as creating valuable habitat for butterflies and caterpillars we are also catering to all insects (and bees in particular). A lot of species spend 90% of their time as caterpillars. I tend to know where they are in the garden and like to get down to ground level and show visitors what’s really going on!”
The short film below shows Clive Farrell’s vision for the site.
Insect Handling everyday, currently at 13:30 – 14:00 and 15:00 to 15:30. Check their website for daily times.
Open everyday( including Bank Holidays) 10am – 5pm.
Last entry an hour before closing.
Butterfly World Project Ltd 2014 Miriam Lane, Off Noke Lane, Chiswell Green, Herts, AL2 3NY
Tel: +44 (0) 1727 869 203