More butterflies to emerge as spring blooms

Published 12:00pm 1 September 2023

More butterflies to emerge as spring blooms
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Visitors to the Bribie Island Butterfly House will have the opportunity to walk amongst hundreds of colourful and fluttering butterflies this spring, with the warmer months being the best time to visit.

Bribie Island Butterfly House volunteer Angela Blinco says the butterflies in the outdoor sanctuary are extremely active when the sun is shining.

“Butterflies are cold-blooded animals, so they much prefer the sunshine,” Angela says.

“When it is cold, overcast, or rainy, they can be quite sluggish and tend to hide underneath the leaves.

“But now that spring is here, they will be fluttering around the sanctuary and mating more, meaning there will be more butterflies to see.”

Once inside the sanctuary, visitors can expect to see around 10 different butterfly species, including Australia’s largest butterfly, the female Cairns Birdwing.

“The Cairns Birdwing is not normally found down in South East Queensland, but we have a special licence to breed them here,” Angela says.

“The most common butterflies you will see include the male and female Varied Eggfly - they are very friendly and like to land on people.

“We do have a strict no touching policy, but if a butterfly does land on you, it’s a great opportunity for you to not only see them up close, but to also snap a photo.

“When you visit, you should wear lots of bright coloured clothing.

“The butterflies are also attracted to smells and perfumes, so if you wear something sweet or floral, they will find you.”

The Bribie Island Butterfly House also has its own specially designed breeding lab which is temperature and humidity controlled.

“When they are out in the wild, the lifecycle of turning from a caterpillar into a butterfly can take weeks, months and even up to a year if the weather conditions aren’t right,” Angela says.

“But thanks to our very own specially designed breeding lab, we can be here to support the butterflies breeding throughout the entire year so we can ensure we always have plenty of butterflies out in the sanctuary for families to enjoy.”

Visitors can get a glimpse inside the breeding lab and see the volunteers hard at work looking after the eggs, feeding the caterpillars, and protecting the chrysalises (which is the form a caterpillar takes before it emerges from its cocoon as a fully formed butterfly).

Once the adult butterfly has emerged from its chrysalis, the volunteers will ensure its wings have fully dried before releasing it into the sanctuary.

Angela says caring for the caterpillars and butterflies is a full-time job.

“Everyone knows the children’s story of the very hungry caterpillar, and after volunteering here for as long as I have, I can honestly say that story is true,” Angela says.

“I always tell the kids that caterpillars don’t eat ice cream and cake though – they need their own special leaves.

“Each species of butterflies has their own specific host plants - the caterpillars can only eat those specific leaves.

“Every day the volunteers need to change their leaves and clean up their poop. It really is a full-time job that needs to be done every day.

“However, adult butterflies can eat all sorts of nectar from different flowering plants.”

The Bribie Island Butterfly House is open every Wednesday and Sunday from 10am-4pm (last entry is 3pm).

Entry is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for children aged 4-15.

All profits raised go back to supporting the local community, with the Bribie Island Butterfly House supporting several charities.

To see more photos, click through the gallery below. 

Find out more

For more information about the Bribie Island Butterfly House, visit their website.

https://www.bribieislandbutterflyhouse.org/

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