Of bees and butterflies
Butterflies have six legs and unattractive life cycles of egg, larva and pupa but, in contrast to other insects, most people consider them gorgeous and likeable. Moths, although belonging to the same Lepidoptera family do not receive similar acclaim in visual arts, literature or jewellery. Even the name, consisting of ‘butter’ and ‘fly’ does not exactly generate attractive associations. Despite its strange name the butterfly has managed to become a very popular species. And very successful – it has been around for about 50 million years.
It was the first time I have been to a butterfly garden and I liked the one at Koh Samui a lot. Loads of those flying beauties surround you upon entering the garden through a heavy metal curtain. There is a walking trail leading up the hill until you reach the viewpoint on top of the garden. On various levels you will find small terraced huts to take a rest and admire the hyperactive creations. If you hold on still enough they will approach you and even land on you.
It was also the first time that I have witnessed a close up feeding scene. A big and hungry butterfly having lunch, inserting his log slim trumpet, called proboscis, into the flower to suck nectar as if performing an injection. That tube like mouth was soooo long. We have seen butterflies’ favourite flower restaurants and a huge range of beautiful and colourful flower snacks. Colour and aesthetics are important if preparing a meal considered to be tasty by butterfly’s gusto.
It was the first time I have seen very big and exotic butterflies (not pinned into a picture frame) and that I was so close to them. It was fun to watch them land, sunbathe their wings, navigate through the air and what looked like playing with other butterflies to me. Sometimes they would sit still on a flower for a short period of time but the slightest sluggish movement would quickly scare them away. Taking pictures was a challenge unless you are equipped with oversized paparazzi gear.
It was definitely not a first time score situation to get them on a pic. Butterflies are not easily excited for still posing rather engaging in swift flying techniques and daring kamikaze turns, so most pictures look like this:
How many butterflies can you see in the picture above? (The answer is: 4.)
Here are some butterflies that were happy to have their portrait taken.
I learned that some butterflies can hear and make clicking sounds. I also learned that butterflies are very odd by detecting taste through receptors on their feet and smelling scents through their antennae. Now that was news – must have slept through biology lessons :)
Welcome to Butterfly Garden. Protected by a roof net above the whole area and those ‘gates’. Although the curtains seem to be a safe barrier, one butterfly took its chance and flew out as we were getting in. Luckily they weren’t manipulated laboratory butterfly experiment mutants. I think.
The yellow-black butterfly right in the middle was actually as big as the palm of my hand.
Walking the manicured butterfly trail.
Camouflage. The butterfly mimics vegetation.
I found this butterfly exoskeleton. It looks like a little elf with a tiny cute face.
This is what butterflies like to eat.
And this is what ants like.
There was also a small one room hut called the bee house from where you could watch bees in their nests safely behind glass with a provided torch. In case you wouldn’t spot any sexy time action – the greatest picture I have seen of mating bees was also there.
Then there was a part with the typical pinned butterfly corpses.
Macabre and marvellous.
Butterflies from Brazil are much bigger.
Only 400 Baht for that morbid souvenir. A beer is 100 Baht. Humans do not value animals very much.
Peculiar joint venture with the adjacent hotel. With the Koh Samui Butterfly Garden entrance ticket you will get a buy-one-get-one-free drink at the Centara hotel :)