Butterflies in The Glasshouse

Last weekend I visited The Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) garden at Wisley in Surrey, south of London, which is one of the three most visited paid gardens in the UK (alongside Kew Gardens). It probably wouldn’t have been somewhere I’d visit usually but the opportunity arose and it was nice to get some fresh air and enjoy the newly opened “Butterflies in the Glasshouse” event.

RHS Wisley

Wisley was founded by a Victorian businessman who purchased the site in 1878. After his death the site was gifted to the RHS and was developed steadily into a large and diverse garden covering 240 acres. In addition to numerous formal and informal decorative gardens, several glasshouses and an extensive arboretum, it includes small-scale “model gardens” which are intended to show visitors what they can achieve in their own gardens.

The Glasshouse @ RHS Wisley

A newer addition to the gardens is the Bicentenary Glasshouse which was opened in 2007 and covers an area equal in size to 10 tennis courts while rising to 12m in height. It is divided into three climatic zones, recreating tropical, moist temperate and dry temperate habitats.

Glasshouse Waterfall

From January 15 to February 27 Wisley is holding its annual “Butterflies in The Glasshouse” event whereby they release over 1000 tropical butterflies into the warm jungle-like ecosystem. Having only very recently emerged from their chrysalis’ the butterflies are quite docile – a perfect time for a bit of photography. Below is what I found…

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)

Scarlet Swallowtail

Scarlet Swallowtail (Papilio rumanzovia)

Asian Swallowtail

Asian Swallowtail (Pailio lowi)

Big Billy

Big Billy (Atrophaneura semperi)

Pink Rose

Pink Rose (Pachliopta kotzebuea)

Great Mormon

Great Mormon (Papilio memnon)

King Swallowtail

King Swallowtail (Papilio thoas)

Old Butterfly

Owl (Caligo memnon)

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)

Searching for Butterflies

As you might imagine it’s a huge draw for families with young kids and I imagine at peak hours it may get quite crowded.

Golden Birdwing

Golden Birdwing (Troides rhadamantus)

Pink Rose

Pink Rose (Pachliopta kotzebuea)

Great Mormon

Great Mormon (Papilio memnon)

Tree Nymph

Tree Nymph (Idea leuconoe)

Glowing Leaf

Even though I didn’t manage to spot all 16 species of butterfly which were apparently there, the ones I did see were pretty spectacular and surprisingly big compared to common ones you might find in the English countryside. It was well worth the visit.

David avatar

3 responses

  1. Stephanie Dolen avatar
    Stephanie Dolen

    Thank you so much for the beautiful shots, never before have I seen butterflies that inhabit a green house, this was informative and enlightening.
    Stephanie Dolen

    1. Hi Stephanie – happy to hear you enjoyed the photos!

  2. Phil Osso avatar
    Phil Osso

    Many mis-identified I’m afraid:
    1). Blue Morpho is Blue-banded Morpho (Morpho achilles)
    2). Scarlet swallowtail is female Great Mormon (Papilio memnon)
    3). May be male Asian Swallowtail or a Great Mormon. These species are polymorphic (many forms)
    4). Big Billy is Scarlet Swallowtail or Mormon) (Papilio rumanzovia)
    5). Pink Rose is Big Billy or Bat-wing swallowtail) (Atrophanuera semperi)
    6). See answer 3.
    7). Correct
    8). Correct
    9). Correct
    10). Peak hours are ‘murder’!
    11). Correct
    12. See answer 5.
    13). Great Mormon is a male Scarlet Swallowtail (Mormon) (Papilio rumnazovia)
    14). Correct
    2013 has see even mor species on display, many not listed in the basic an misleading spotter guide


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