DO YOU THINK THA T IT IS IMPOSS IBLE TO SEE BU TTERFL IES IN WINTER ? THEN LE T’S MEE T THE İSTANBUL BU TTERFLY FARM !
Nowadays, the weather is so cold that you cannot even see a mosquito, let alone seeing a butterfly and we are at a place that we feel ourselves as if we are in tropical rainforests. This place is a conservatory settled on 500 square meters of surface area full of colorful butterflies, birds, flowers. There is also a huge iguana in here. There are only a few minutes between realizing our mistake of entering inside with our coats on and getting rid of them to start observing the butterflies. The humidity rate is about 80 percent and a thermometer hanging on a tree is showing us 26 degrees of Celsius! This is the lowest temperature that butterflies can live. They may not look so, but they are cold-blooded animals just as snakes are and they need hot air to live. Fortunately, they have people in this conservatory to fulfill their needs day and night. There are fruits, plants that they are fed, and solutions, in which the sponges in matching colors of the plants that they are fed are soaked. They land on the plates that are prepared for them, they taste their food using their feet, and then they start sucking through their proboscis. What they are eating must be delicious since they keep slightly flapping their wings while sucking.
THE AMAZING WORLD OF BUTTERFLIES
• Only 3 out of one hundred and fifty eggs that are laid by a female butterfly during her life span can turn into butterflies being two males and one female.
• Butterflies can find each other over 200 kilometers through a hormone that they release.
• Caterpillars are protected from hunters through different characteristics such as being in leaf color, having thorns, and releasing a foul smell. Once they turn into butterflies, their weapon becomes more powerful: Wing patterns resembling snakes and falcon eyes!
• Male butterflies are prettier than female butterflies; they have brighter colors and they are larger compared to females.
Their life cycle consists of four stages
The feeding time doesn’t take long, in fact the amount of food that they eat during their caterpillar stage is enough to keep them through their life span which is between 15 to 42 days. Their life cycle consists of four stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly. They share the nature among themselves so well that a plant species, on which a butterfly species is fed and lays eggs, does mean nothing to another butterfly species. Caterpillar that hatches from the egg on a suitable plant reaches to hundred times of its weight in only a few days by eating the leaves of the plant, onto which it was born! The next in line for the caterpillar is to find a spot to hold and camouflage itself to start spinning its cocoon through the approximately one kilometer long silk that it releases. The rest is easy: Flying around to look for a partner!
Establishing a butterfly farm is as hard as abutterfly’s metamorphosis
Right now, it is not possible to find another butterfly farm in Turkey such as this one located in Beykoz, İstanbul. In fact, this farm is the materialized form of retired chemistry teacher Çiğdem Ünlü’s dream that she had after visiting a butterfly farm in England. She had been trained there for this purpose starting from the very bottom by doing the cleaning works. She had worked for months to prepare its foundation. When we consider the work that she has achieved, we can suggest that this must have been as hard as a butterfly’s metamorphosis for her. The visitors of the farm are mostly children, but we don’t see any difference between them and adult men who get into bizarre shapes when trying to photograph the butterflies. Although, the children try to observe the butterflies through the looking glasses that they were given, their job is as tough as our photographer’s is. Today, it is sunny and the butterflies don’t intend to stay at one place for a long time!
The only way for survival is camouflage
The visitors can observe butterfly eggs, caterpillars that are munching on leaves, pupas, and many different butterfly species in here. Biologist Tuğba Akkaya guides the visitors through the conservatory. It would be very hard to notice the tiny eggs, camouflaged pupas, and dry leaf butterflies without her guidance. One other thing that is very hard to understand is the chaos theory, which is known as the ‘butterfly effect.’ Although, we don’t know your side on the argument of whether the air movement caused by the flaps of a butterfly’s wings effects other things in the world or not, we can tell that you are definitely going to stay away from your own chaos during your visit in the İstanbul Butterfly Farm!