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I’ve always been fascinated with caterpillars. I spent many hours searching for them when I was a kid, picking them up and watching them march across my hand. I’ve become more squeamish about holding them, but they’re still a beautiful miracle.

Somehow I made it to 40 years old without ever knowing that many chrysalises were bright gold. How miraculous is that?

metalic chrysalis

metalic chrysalis in hand

At the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, the butterfly breeding program was introduced to create an environmentally friendly industry for locals. Butterfly farms require intact habitat, so they discourage deforestation. Many of the centre employees were able to leave coal production jobs to instead support their families working at the butterfly farm. Different workers bring different breeding skills. Some are known for being able to successfully breed more difficult species.

Metalic hanging chrysalis

The chrysalises are incubated in a mesh box, and newly hatched butterflies hang out for another day or so while their wings harden.

inside the incubator

I also just learned that caterpillars are able to chew food (well yeah, that’s why the buggers make the garden look like a raggedy mess), but the adults only suck nectar. What a curious lifecycle.

caterpillars 2


Workers host visitors to the botanical and butterfly garden and educate them about the lifecycle, which attracts tourists and generates revenue. A sort of butterfly restaurant is set up for butterflies to enjoy fruit snacks. If you’re curious how the fruit is not covered in ants, the feet of the table were set in trays of motor oil.

unknown butterfly eating fruit

My butterfly identification skills are amateur at best, but I enjoy seeing them just the same. I believe this is a Papilio Polodarus or eles Papilio Demodocus.

papilio polodarus or demodocus top

These two were working on making more butterflies.

papilio polodarus or demodocus mating

Papilio Nireus, I believe.

Papilio Nireus

A Papilio Demodocus was kind enough to sit still for a photo. I will tell you this. Taking a bunch of iPhone photos in burst mode did nothing to increase my chances of getting an in-focus photo. Better to sneak up and focus before shooting. I had hundreds of blurry shots to sift through later. Live and learn.

Papilio Demodocus

Mypolimnas misippus, aka Danaid Eggfly.

Hypolimnas_misippus - Danaid_Eggfly

Hypolimnas Missipus, from the top.

Hypolimnas Missipus

Hypolimnas Missipus, from the side.

Hypolimnas Missipus wings up

I quite liked the subtle color and texture on this mystery flyer.

unknown butterfly subtle shades of brown

How is it you only see certain things upon return home, when reviewing photos? The plant on the left with the spiral of wavy leaves atop tall stems is now screaming for my attention. How I wish I’d gotten a better look at the time. What a mysterious beauty. Any ideas?

mystery plant and caesalpenia