How to grow your own butterflies
Here at Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve, we've set up our very own butterfly house.
Thanks to SPRINGWATCH researcher, Dr Emma Brennand and our camera team, we now have 20 pupae ready to emerge into beautiful butterflies.
Watch closely and you'll see them emerge live on our webcams.
This is how we did it...
Nick Pitt setting up
Emma ordered a selection of British butterflies, comma, painted ladies and small tortoiseshell butterflies, and a package containing 20 butterfly chrysalises arrived last Thursday 7th June.
The chrysalis stage varies between species but is usually around two weeks, whilst the caterpillar inside is undergoes metamorphosis into a butterfly. In order to emerge, they need to be out of direct sunlight, at around 25 degrees and in relatively high humidity.
Our camera team created an ideal environment in a small studio here on site. There are two lights in the room, to provide both light and heat during the day, and then we switch them off at night. There is also a lot of well-watered vegetation behind them to both re-create a natural looking environment but also to keep humidity levels up.
Chrysalis set up in our studio
Each chrysalis was then carefully attached to a stick with a very small blob of glue.
We lined up 5 comma butterflies and 5 small tortoiseshells to the top stick, and 10 painted ladies to the bottom.
Chrysalis lined up, ready to hatch
All we can do now is sit and wait for them to begin emerging. We expect to see at least some of them to begin this metamorphosis before the last show on Thursday this week - so keep your eyes peeled to the webcams.
Attaching the chrysalis
How can you tell when they are emerging?
The chrysalis itself will begin to split, from the bottom, the young butterfly will climb out of the case up to the stick. As it first emerges the butterfly's wings will be very soft, and folded in against the body. This is due to having to fit inside the pupae.
So, it will then spend the next hour or so pumping blood into the wings to get them working in order to be able to fly.
Once they have emerged, just open an window and off they fly into your garden and help to maintain a healthy population of British butterflies.
These are the beauties we hope to see any time now, thanks to your photos on the Flickr group.