Vishanie Vijeyakumar | Butterfly Kingdom

The whole idea of my project is to introduce the life of butterflies as everyone around takes these beautiful insects lightly. How is a butterfly important to the ecosystem? Not many values the life’s and the importance of butterflies and my project is all about conserving and increasing the population of these sensitive insects. There is a tremendous change of butterfly population in the UK mainly due to the climate change and habitat loss. About 56 species of UK butterflies have been affected and they are delicate species that are sensitive to change. Butterflies give us a meaningful glimpse into our current biodiversity as well as they pollinate food sources. Due to the habitat destruction and climate change as their main threat, the project aims to help these beautiful species around the urban spaces and cities where its least green. The aim is to bring back nature and a suitable habitat for butterflies to reproduce and live without the disturbance of climate change and habitat destruction.

What do butterflies do for the environment? Butterflies pick up pollen while they sip on nectar and once they are off to another plant, the pollen falls onto other flowers. It helps pollinate the plant species. About one third of the food people eat depends on the work of pollination like the butterflies. It also acts as an ecosystem Barometer. Scientists use the presence or absence of butterflies as a predator to research on the health of the ecosystem, as butterflies provide a food source for other animals. The change of climate and temperature has a massive impact on butterflies as it alters migration patterns and timing. Due to the extreme changes in climates, the most vulnerable state of the butterfly life cycle is the pupa also known as the Chrysalis. The process of a pupa from hatching depends of the temperature surrounding of the environment. It can’t be too hot, and it can’t be too cold. The stage of a pupa is the longest stage in the butterfly’s life-cycle.

The first stage: The egg

The eggs of a butterfly are very small, with an oval or cylindrical shape. A cool fact about butterfly eggs is that if it is looked close enough, you will be able to watch a tiny caterpillar growing inside of it. The egg shape can vary from round to oval depending on the type of butterfly species. These eggs are commonly found on leaves of plants.

The second stage: The Larva (caterpillar)

This stage in life, a caterpillar is born. They do not stay at this stage for long and all they mostly do is eat and that is why butterflies carefully choose where it lays its eggs. They look for mostly green and preferably healthy ones. They usually choose certain type of leaves depending on the type of caterpillars. Once caterpillars are born, they cannot move to other plants.

The third stage: Pupa (Chrysalis)

Basically, this stage is the most interesting and fascinating in a butterfly’s life. This occurs when the caterpillar is done growing and has reached their full length/weight, a pupa starts to form. Inside the pupa, the caterpillar is rapidly changing, and undergoing a remarkable transformation and it called ‘metamorphosis’ that turns into a butterfly.

The fourth stage: Adult Butterfly

When a butterfly first emerged from the pupa, its wings are soft and folded against its body. The reason is because when the transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly is occurring, it must fit all the new body parts in that small pupa. The butterfly does not immediately fly once it’s out, it rests for a while and then blood is pumped into its wings for it to fly. They master their flying in a period of 3-4 hours and then will search for a mate for reproduction. They are in a constant stage to look out for reproduction and while doing that, pollination automatically occurs as they sit and drink on attractive coloured flowers and move on the next.

The project I’m designing is basically a scaled down model of a greenhouse mostly suited for butterflies. It is suited based on the type of plants being grown as the caterpillars are very specific on the type of food and leaves, they feed on. The reason why it will be scaled down is because it is designed for houses in the city where there is no backyard for a proper sized greenhouse, when there is lack of greenery in the surrounding, those who have no gardens in the back of their homes or balcony and even for schools that the product can be kept in classrooms instead of outdoor to avoid any disturbance. UK and Ireland have 4 seasons and plants usually don’t grow in all of them. I aim to keep the plants growing throughout the year and when the plants are fully grown and suitable to start providing, caterpillars can be purchased online and delivered to door. It is very important to know what type of species you would want to attract and grow as the food plant is the main essential in the beginning process of building the perfect habitat. It can be the coldest day of the year and you can still see your pupa hatch in the lovely home of a warm, and perfect greenhouse concept environment.