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Butterfly and Insect Kingdom

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Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom

General Information
Butterfly07Dec02001.jpg (696859 bytes)

          Like an emergent butterfly, the newly-transformed Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom promises to be an experience you won’t forget. Be dazzled by the riot of colours as thousands of tiny wings flutter around you as you stroll through the natural environment of butterflies, amidst waterfalls and flowers in bloom, where these fragile specimens thrive in.
           The Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, built at a cost of $800,000, is specially designed for the exhibition, habitation and breeding of butterflies. A creation of Gordon T Ledbetter, an experienced designer in water garden landscaping, the 1.05 hectare Butterfly Park is also the first of its kind have a exhibition of more than 4,000 mounted butterflies and insects as well as a outdoor conservatory with more than 1,500 live butterflies fluttering it. The insects here comprise some of the world’s most beautiful and rarest insects.
          The live insect display has a selection of live specimens which are separately kept in glass cases. These include jungle grasshoppers, long-horned and single-horned beetles, leaf mantis and other fascinating insects. It is definitely not a place to be missed by insect and nature lovers. You will definitely be mesmerized by colourful array of butterflies on display. Now, let’s take a closer look at Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom.

Open: 9am to 6.30pm daily
Last Admission: 6pm
Admission Fees: S$10 for adults, s$6 for children
Approximate Touring Time: 45 minutes
Location: 51 & 51A Cable Car Road, Sentosa, 099702/3
Getting There: Take Sentosa Bus from the World Trade Centre Bus Terminal or Tiong Bahru MRT. On Sentosa, take the monorail to Station M4 or by bus on the Blue or Green Lines.

Entrance and Exhibition Hall

          You will start your tour of the Park at the Entrance to the Exhibition Hall. By the counter, there will be a ticket collector and there is a huge frame of colourful butterflies on the wall behind the counter. The butterflies are arranged in circles but they are a mere preview of what Insect Kingdom and Butterfly
has to offer. Within the halls, there are more butterflies and many other amazing insects. Once you paid for your tickets, you will enter the Exhibition Hall.

          The first Exhibition Hall has a curved wall that depicts how life form evolved, since the start of the Earth. The first few pictures showed single-celled creatures and more complex creatures such as mammals are found towards the other end of the wall. In that large hall, there are also the fossilized remains of prehistoric sea shells and shelled creatures. This exhibit was replicated from the former fossil and the feeling of the smooth rock surface lets you admire the life forms that existed billions of years ago.
          Further into the hall, you will the fossilized remains of other creatures such as frogs and fishes. These fossils are kept in glass cases and labels by the sides of the exhibits allow you to know which body parts each of the fossil segments are. Hung on the wall is a chart depicting the Insect Family System Tree. Each branch of the tree is further divide
d into smaller classes and the species at each of the different classes are listed meticulously. The display illustrates the insect order which is classified into 32 groups. Insects with primitive features are depicted on the left while more evolved insects are placed on the right. From this chart, we got to know that beetles are the most abundant insect in the world in terms of the number of species. Do look out for this informative chart when you are there!

Inside the Museum
          Our planet Earth is home to more than 2,800,000 species of insects, each having its own unique and complex shapes, characteristics and lifestyles. Their immense population has made them the largest group of living creatures known. In the Insect Kingdom Museum, you will have close encounters with up to 3,000 different species of insects, of which comprises some of the world’s rarest and most magnificent beetles. Insect Kingdom also includes a dazzling enclosure of over 5,000 fireflies. Be sure to stop and admire the largest Dynasties Hercules beetle ever recorded – all 160mm of it!


          The first exhibit that you will see is a huge glass case that houses many butterflies. These butterflies are from all over the world and only the most beautiful and rarest ones from each country are placed in this case. One can easily identify the origin of each butterfly by looking at this exhibit. Some of these butterflies are migratory and their migratory are also depicted in this exhibit. By the wall, you will see a pie chart breaking down the Butterfly Family and listing out all the different classes. Some major examples are selected for each of these classes for you to understand the differences between each class better. There are more exhibits kept in glass cases when you walk towards the Butterfly Park.
          Soon, you get to see live specimens in a special room. The selections of live specimens are enclosed separately in specially designed glass enclosures. These specimens include the Jungle Grasshopper, Ghost Spiders and millipedes. The enclosures of these specimens are made to resemble the natural habitats of the insects and they are covered with dead leaves. Sometimes, a rotten log is placed in the enclosure to provide a place for the insects to hide.
The park will also be the first in the world to showcase a 70m long cave housing live insect specimens in their natural habitat. Visitors can get up close and personal with the Rhino Beetles, Giant Spiders and scorpions. As you venture further into the dark, discover Fireflies which serve as guiding lights.


          For the more adventurous, you can participate in the twice daily Stage Shows where you can learn how to handle giant scorpions, beetles and other insects. Try picking up a stick insect at the Stick Insect Safari, which is only if you can spot these cleverly-camouflaged creatures!

Butterfly Park

          Finally, the museum leads to a small room which houses caterpillars. The caterpillars are tended to by specialised personnel. Upon request, you can ask to hold the caterpillars with your hands. Grp88 had the experience of holding those caterpillars when we visited Butterfly Park. They have spikes in their soft bodies but be assured that they are neither poisonous nor harmful in any sense. In fact, holding these little critters is rather a
fun and new experience. The room is actually a nursery for caterpillars. When they grow older, they are released into the park. Also, caterpillars here can be purchased only by schools for experiments and not by private buyers.
          Stroll through the lush surrounds of the Butterfly Park and allow 2,500 live butterflies – from over 50 species – to flutter about you as you enjoy the cool outdoor conservatory. The largest is the “Papilio Iswara” (Great Helen) measuring about 15cm and the smallest is the “Eurema Sari” (2.5cm). Perhaps the most colourful butterfly to look at is the “Papilio Polytes” (Common Mormon). You will also come across containers filled with sugar and honey solution, strategically located around the park. This is necessary to provide food for the butterflies, in view of the dense concentration in the park. Clusters of picked flowers in the park can also serve the same purpose. The butterflies feeding on the nectar of these flowers also help to pollinate the flower at the same time, ensuring that the plants in the park will continue to thrive and provide food for the butterflies. Caterpillars hatched from eggs laid by these butterflies can be observed feeding on the leaves of plants.
          Watch the blossoming of new life at the Live Pupae house, where young butterflies will spread their wings for the very first time. You can also see pupae, which is the final stage of the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into butterflies. Wet sponges are placed on the shelves to prevent the pupae from drying out. View of the pupae and the metamorphosis is through the glass panes around the Live Pupae house. The chrysalises are hung at certain angles and away from direct sunlight. A few hundred pupae are placed here and each day, an average of 10% will develop into butterflies and join the colony in the park.

Photographing Butterflies

          The Sentosa Butterfly Park is a great place to photograph butterflies. Grp88 took a few great shots at the park. The park provides an environment where the photographer can concentrate on photographing and not having to worry about looking for the subject; and provides opportunities to photograph species that are otherwise rare or difficult to photograph i
n the wild.

          However, to take great photos, one must have the proper equipments, familiarise oneself with the environment and get know the butterflies at the park.

Equipments
          The park has narrow and winding footpaths which are designed to allow visitors to get close to butterflies. Thus one should use a camera with digital zoom capability and macro mode. Whilst tripods are usually recommended for macro photography, space constraints at the park make a tripod difficult and inconvenient to use. Flash is recommended when photographing butterflies under the shade or when shooting against backlight. However, we found out that the lighting at during noon is the best and using flash at that time of the day would result in your photos being too bright.

Environment
          The Butterfly Park, being a man-made enclosed environment, is surrounded by objects such as ropes, metal bars, nettings and cages. Including these man-made objects will definitely ruin your photos. One must thus take care not to include such objects when photographing at the Butterfly Park.
          If such objects are visible in the background, you can try to move around and find a different angle. As an alternative, you can employ large apertures, flash or zoom-in to 'eliminate' such objects from the photo. If none of these work, just move on and look for another subject. Unlike in the wild, there are many butterflies in the park and ample opportunities to photograph them.
Note that mist sprays located all over the enclosure will frequently spray tiny droplets of mist (just when you are composing your masterpiece) to keep the place moist and the butterflies happy. So be prepared if you do not want your equipment to get wet!

Subjects
          There are more than 50 species of butterflies at Sentosa Butterfly Park. Most of them are foreign species but many are closely related to the species in Singapore. Some species will settle with their wings wide open while others prefer to show only their undersides. A few are just plain shy and prefer to play hide and seek with you. Knowing which species to go after is crucial to avoid frustration and getting all soaked up (in the humid enclosure).
Another opportunity not to be missed at the park is photographing a mating pair of butterflies. In the wild, mating pairs are a rare sight but at the small enclosure of a butterfly park, it is quite easy to spot them and photograph them.
          In addition to butterflies, Sentosa Butterfly Park offers other interesting macro subjects like caterpillars, Man Face Bugs, Grasshoppers, etc., for the macro photographer to flex his skills.
Keep in mind that butterfly park is a place for visitors to enjoy and view butterflies and not a photo studio. So, give consideration to visitors and tourists and try not to block the narrow pathway. If there is a crowd, you should move to the side and wait for the crowd to pass or just move on to another location.
Grp88 wishes you a happy butterfly shooting!
 

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 Copyright Material of Group 88.
Last updated: 08/15/04.