David Bellamy at Chiswell Green’s Butterfly World

Author and broadcaster to open exhibit at Butterfly World

THERE’S growing ant-icipation at a St Albans tourist attraction as it prepares to welcome back famous botanist David Bellamy to open its latest exhibit, a display of 10,000 American leafcutter ants.

The environmental campaigner and author, a veteran of hundreds of television programmes, has invited local children to bring big, green paper cut-out leaves this Sunday, July 24, to Butterfly World, off Noke Lane.

It is the latest in a series of visits to the project by David, one of Butterfly World’s celebrity patrons and a keen supporter of the sanctuary.

David will be busy on site from 10am until 6pm, giving talks and officially opening Ant World at 11am. At 1.30pm he will lead a Pied Piper style leaf parade through the project from Ant World to a giant 60-foot-long leafcutter ant sculpture in the wildflower meadows.

Then from midday visitors can share a burger and sausage with David as he hosts Bellamy’s barbecue.

From 2.30pm he will judge the best children’s cut-out paper leaf competition in three categories; under-fives, over-fives and over-12s.

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And children arriving with a full fee-paying adult will be allowed free entry.

Butterfly World’s new exhibit features thousands of miniature beasts of burden, the leafcutter ants, which haul leaves up to 50 times their own body weight. They have also been dubbed “parasol ants” because of the intriguing way they carry leaves above their heads.

Their habitat at the project can be viewed close up, allowing visitors to watch them transport leaves along rope walkways, and learn about how the complete food chain works.

n The project has had a massive hike in visits, with 6,000 schoolchildren learning about butterflies at the sanctuary in under three months this season (April 8-September 30). That’s three times the number of pupils who saw the project for the total season last year;

n During the summer holidays Butterfly World’s education team has planned a range of activities, including environment workshops and craft activities;

n The project, set within 27 acres of land, was due to be completed in October this year, but is now to complete in late 2012 once financial backing has been secured;

n See www.butterflyworldproject.com