Chiswell Green’s Butterfly World opens for season with new attractions

PUBLISHED: 18:26 30 March 2012

Butterfly World, Chiswell Green.  New for 2012.  Leafcutter Ants (Atta Cephalotes).

Butterfly World, Chiswell Green. New for 2012. Leafcutter Ants (Atta Cephalotes).

Archant

BUTTERFLY World is still set to be one of Europe’s largest attractions once the long-awaited biome is built according to its managing director.

And there has already been an approach to build two similar projects in China once the prototype Chiswell Green scheme is fully up and running.

MD Angela Harkness, who has been with the Butterfly World project since the outset and is determined to see it through to completion, was speaking in the week that the attraction reopened for the new season.

She firmly believes that work on the biome, which will be the focal point of the site off Miriam Lane, will begin this autumn and be up and running by autumn 2013 although the original schedule for its construction was hit by the recession: “We are now extremely confident that the funding will be in place to start construction of the Dome this year.”

And she went on: “I have no doubt that it will become one of Europe’s biggest attractions and we have been approached by China to build two Butterfly Worlds there. This will be the prototype and once we know exactly how this is going to operate and work, we will have the expertise to take it worldwide.”

Ninety five per cent of the 27-acre site is now owned by building company Breheny which was brought in originally as contractors and, in the words of the infamous Remington advert, liked the company so much that they bought it.

But Butterfly World founder Clive Farrell is still closely involved with the project he established on land adjoining the Gardens of the Rose and, according to Angela, his expertise in butterflies continues to be the lynchpin of its development.

The 100m biome, as always planned, will open its doors as the biggest butterfly experience, conservation and education centre in the world complete with living rainforest, 10,000 tropical butterflies, Mayan ruins, caves, streams and rope walkways.

In the meantime Angela and her team have developed Butterfly World as a unique environmental experience which has attracted huge numbers of moths and butterflies to Chiswell Green as well as a wealth of other insects.

It has put the focus very much on education with the result that school parties flock there – 8,500 youngsters visited last year.

As well as the insect study centre, the butterfly breeding house is open again and there is a remarkable exhibition of leafcutter ants processing back and forth along roping with food to create fungus farms which feed the colony and its queen.

The original Future Gardens, which were opened as a competition for designers in 2009, still remain with a couple of new additions and celebrity gardener Ivan Hicks’ surreal creations are still prominent

The Chrysalis Lake is now well established and hums with dragonflies in the summer and the verges of Miriam Lane will once again be covered in wildflowers later in the season, which will be hydroseeded on the third week in April for anyone interested in seeing how it is done.

Angela said: “We are more than butterflies. People think we are a butterfly farm or butterfly house but we have wildflowers, gardens, leafcutter ants, play areas, a cafeteria and it is only £5 a head in April.”

Last year Butterfly World hit its target of 110,000 visitors even though it was not the best of summers and Angela is confident that it can do so again.

She added: “All this year already we are choc-a-bloc with school parties and have a full educational programme with entemologists on site. There are increased insect attractions this year and the play area which was opened mid season last year is now completely finished.”

A special season opening ticket offer and a full calendar of Easter events and timings is available at www.butterflyworldproject.com.

It is open from 10am to 5pm daily until November 4.

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