I am no expert photographer, preferring to capture the moment than get a perfectly composed shot. The pictures on my blog are either taken with a compact Canon, a Panasonic Lumix FZ150 or on my phone.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Butterfly and Insect World, Edinburgh

On Saturday my son and I visited Butterfly and Insect World, just outside Edinburgh. It is the perfect antidote to a cold February day after several months of butterfly-less-ness!!
The place isn't enormous, but there is plenty to see for the enthusiast or casual observer. As well as a large greenhouse, full of plants and ponds where the butterflies fly, there is also an area with reptiles, tarantulas and other insects.
You can buy a small Guide to Tropical Butterflies, but it doesn't cover all of the butterflies that can be seen there. I suppose the species that can be seen depend on the chrysalis available.
I have managed to identify most of those that I saw, but there are a few that remain a mystery to me. If anyone knows their names, or if I have made any identifications mistakes I would be pleased to hear from you.

A pair of Blue Morpho butterflies, Morpho menelaus. The upper side of their wings are an amazing blue colour, but of course you can only see that when they fly. One of these was roosting high in a palm tree and another was flying around it. I switched my camera to take a video and almost immediately the male landed and they started to mate.

This is a Banded Purplewing, Myscelia cyaniris, from Central America. Its wings had an amazing purple sheen, depending on how the light hit them. It would land, flick its wings open a couple of times and then close them to roost. The underside of the wings are a dull brown pattern.

This is a Cattleheart, Parides lysander, which is found in much of South America.

A Clipper, Parthenos sylvia, from South-east Asia.

I think this is a Doris Longwing, Laparus doris, from Central America.

This is the upper side of the Doris Longwing.

One of my favourite butterflies there was the Glasswing, Greta oto, which occurs from Mexico to Panama. There were quite a lot of them flying around the display.

This is a Goldrim, Battus polydamus, one of the butterflies I saw in St Lucia.

Thank you to Stiletto for identifying this butterfly for me. It is Hypolimnas bolina. I have a picture of the upper side further down this post, which looks completely different.

This is Hecale's Longwing, Heliconius hecale, from Central America.

This, I have discovered is a Jazzy Leafwing, Hypna clytemnestra. The upper side of the wings is mostly black, with a white band.

This is a female Low's Swallowtail, Papilio lowi, from the Philippines...

... and this is a male Low's Swallowtail.

One of my favourite of all butterflies is the Malachite, Siproeta stelenes, which occurs in Central and northern South America. I only saw one of these at the display and it seemed to like perching high in the vegetation.

Just before we left we saw a Monarch, Danaus plexippus. Whenever I have seen these in the wild I have always thought they were large butterflies, but in the company of the other butterflies here it seemed quite small!

A Postman, Heliconius erato, from northern South America.

A Purple Mort Bleu, Erphanis polyxena, from South America. These had lovely purple upper wings.

A Tiger Leafwing, Consul fabius, from South America.

The Tree Nymph, Idea leuconoe, from South East Asia. There were plenty of these drifting around Butterfly World.

This is the Variable Cracker, Hamadryas feronia, which occurs in the southern USA and northern South America. This one came down to feed on some bananas, but it normally rests flat against tree trunks.

Here are a few pictures from a previous visit.

This is a Common Mormon, Papilio polytes, from Asia.

And this is a Giant Orange Tip, Hebornia glaucippe, also from Asia.

This is a Palm Fly, Elymnias hypermenstra, from India.

This is a Pink Rose, Pachliopta kotzebuea, from the Philippines.

This is a Scarlet Swallowtail, Papilio rumanzovia, also from the Philippines.

This is a male Mimic, Hypolimnas bolina, which occurs in Africa, Asia and Australia.

I struggled to get sharp pictures of some of these exotic butterflies in the Scottish gloom! I was impressed with the number of different species on display. Initially when we arrived, I thought there were only ten or so species flying around, but the longer we stayed the more we spotted. There were other species that I didn't manage to photograph. I only saw one example of many species, but I am not sure if there were more hiding amongst the vegetation.

There were also a number of chrysalis on display waiting for future butterflies to emerge. I'll put some pictures in a separate post.

More information about Butterfly and Insect World can be found on their web site:


  1. I was there in Edinburgh, to visit an Institute a couple of years ago. I didn't know that there is such a place, otherwise would have visited. You managed to capture beautifully an array of really exotic butterflies. So far I've only captured a handful of species that visit my garden.

    Among the butterflies that are found in my garden are Hypolimnas bolina, Common mormon and the one that you were not able to identify. I've forgotten its ID. I'll get back to you when I've checked it out.

    1. I've checked my archive, and it looks like the Hypolimnas bolina (Jacintha Eggfly) with the wings closed. Very often the underside is so different from the topside. Butterfly of Singapore would be able to provide you with a more concrete ID.

    2. Thanks very much Stiletto. I have Googled images of Hypolimnas bolina and you are right. I would never have thought that!!
      Sorry you missed Butterfly World when you were in Edinburgh. Hopefully you will be back some time and can visit there. It is quite small, but it is great for us to be able to see the large exotic butterflies. You are lucky that you get some of them in your garden!

    3. I'm glad that you have re-affirmed my hunch! We also have butterfly gardens in Malaysia. After being inspired by your photos, I think I shall make a trip there soon.

  2. Thanks for sharing, this is truly amazing!

  3. This is magnificent.......no words none. This is one the first places I'd go if I ever got the chance to visit England, which is a treasure trove of knowledge of Lepidoptera.

    There are several species here that I have yet to see in the NHM Butterfly Exhibit here in NYC. I hope they'll be able to get them.

    Simply breathtaking. And what a wonderful blog. *.* ♥

    1. Thanks Brittanie. Butterfly World Edinburgh is in quite a small building, but if you just sit quietly it is amazing how many different species there are. There is currently an exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London and I hear that the gardens at Wisley in the south of England also have a temporary exhibition each winter. I am sure there must be more permanent exhibits in the UK, but I don't know of them! The museum in Edinburgh used to house an amazing collection of pinned butterflies, but sadly they have modernised it and removed this collection! It's funny, but I long to go to Florida to see places such as Mosi and Butterfly World. I always imagine that things are bigger and better in the USA!