The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre is the largest butterfly enclosure in East Africa. The tour can take 30 – 40 minutes where you can inspect the tiny butterfly eggs, touch and hold the hungry caterpillars and watch them nibble away at the leaves. Admire the beauty of the butterfly pupae before witnessing the butterflies hatching and opening out to become a butterfly.
The visitor can roam around the magical garden, taking pictures of the butterflies and enjoying nature’s treasures. During the tour visitors will be able to see many of Zanzibar’s exotic butterfly species and witness, close up, every stage of their amazing life-cycle.
Zanzibar Butterfly Centre is a popular Zanzibar tourist attraction, especially for school age children and their families. It is among the community based tourism attraction whereby revenue generated by visitors provides funds for local projects in the form of alternative livelihoods (Butterfly farmers were previously engaged in deforestation activities), conservation and poverty alleviation.
Zanzibar butterfly is rare species obtained global due to its features of healthy and good colored species.
What is a butterfly?
Butterflies are the adult flying stage of certain insects belonging to an order or group called Lepidoptera. Moths also belong to this group. The word “Lepidoptera” means “scaly wings” in Greek. This name perfectly suits the insects in this group because their wings are covered with thousands of tiny scales overlapping in rows. The scales, which are arranged in colorful designs unique to each species, are what gives the butterfly its beauty.
Like all other insects, butterflies have six legs and three main body parts: head, thorax (chest or mid section) and abdomen (tail end). They also have two antennae and an exoskeleton.
Butterflies are complex creatures. Their day-to-day lives can be characterized by many activities. If you are observant you may see butterflies involved in many of the follow activities. To observe some activities, such as hybernation, may involve some detective work. To observe other activities such as basking, puddling, or migrating, you will need to be at the proper place at the proper time.
Keep an activity log and see how many different butterflies you can spot involved in each activity. The information from the individual butterfly pages may give you some hints as to where (or on what plants) some of these activities are likely to occur.
The larval or caterpillar stage and the adult butterfly have very different food preferences, largely due to the differences in their mouth parts. Both types of foods must be available in order for the butterfly to complete its life cycle.
Caterpillars are very particular about what they eat, which is why the female butterfly lays her eggs only on certain plants. She instinctively knows what plants will serve as suitable food for the hungry caterpillars that hatch from her eggs. Caterpillars don’t move much and may spend their entire lives on the same plant or even the same leaf! Their primary goal is to eat as much as they can so that they become large enough to pupate. Caterpillars have chewing mouth parts, called mandibles, which enable them to eat leaves and other plant parts. Some caterpillars are considered pests because of the damage they do to crops. Caterpillars do not need to drink additional water because they get all they need from the plants they eat.
Adult butterflies are also selective about what they eat. Unlike caterpillars, butterflies can roam about and look for suitable food over a much broader territory. In most cases, adult butterflies are able to feed only on various liquids. They drink through a tube-like tongue called a proboscis. It uncoils to sip liquid food, and then coils up again into a spiral when the butterfly is not feeding. Most butterflies prefer flower nectar, but others may feed on the liquids found in rotting fruit, in ooze from trees, and in animal dung. Butterflies prefer to feed in sunny areas protected from wind.
A recent University of Kentucky Department of Entomology study compared four commonly available zinnia cultivars with regard to their attractiveness to butterflies. Click for further analysis***FIX LINK*** to see the results of their study, and a reprint of their findings published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture.