Some of the butterflies and moths you see in Butterfly Paradise have been reared in the giant caterpillar itself but many of them have travelled over from places such as Africa or Brazil as pupae from rural community butterfly farms. Across their range in developing countries, butterflies are threatened due to loss of habitat as pressure for natural resources and land intensifies.
More than 160,000 species of butterflies and moths are currently known to exist in the world, and more are thought to be awaiting discovery. However, these groups of insects are threatened across the world by climate change, changes in land-use and farming practices and habitat loss. In the UK, 70% of our native species are in rapid decline and of the 59 British butterfly species, five have become extinct in the last 150 years.
Of the four such butterfly species in the UK, two have recently expanded their ranges. One of these, the Brown Argus, was previously largely restricted to areas of common Rockrose habitat, but has shown a range expansion of more than 100 km in less than 30 years into a wider variety of habitats in eastern England.
In London alone habitat loss has resulted in quite a drastic population decline as wasteland is redeveloped and wild flowers, buddleia and nettles disappear. Careful planting around the outside of the exhibit aims to attract native species to the surrounding area.