Places to Visit in Scotland
- Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World, Lasswade, Midlothian
Have you ever experienced a butterfly landing on your head? It can happen at the Butterfly and Insect World near Lasswade, which is on the periphery of Edinburgh. Apparently some butterflies like human sweat to drink so having one land on you is quite normal!
The Butterfly World breeds a large variety of these beautiful insects and you can see the larvae in their cocoons as well as a multitude of butterflies fluttering around the trees and vegetation as well as slurping at a number of feeding stations. The varieties you see will depend on the time of year - the illustrations here were taken on two separate visits at different times of the year. Depending on the time of year and time of day, it can be quite dim for photography inside the greenhouse, which is home to the butterflies, but flash can produce acceptable results - the illustrations here were taken with a digital camera.
The Banded Owl has a large "eye" which is intended to frighten off predators by looking as though it is a much larger creature than it really is. The gloomy rainforests of South America, where it normally lives, help in this deception.
Many butterflies have developed their colours as camouflage or to pretend that they are something else. The aptly named Glasswing from Central America has followed a different strategy - its wings are almost transparent, making them quite difficult to spot amongst the foliage.
The Small Tree Nymph seems to be a very common type at the Butterfly World and quite a number could be seen. This is one of the types which seems to like fluttering around hot people and landing on them! It comes from Malaysia.
The Blue Morpho from Central America can have a wingspan of 140mm (5.5 inches). It seemed to be one of the shyest of the butterflies - this one was spotted away in a dark corner.
Other Animals and Insects
In addition to the butterflies, this visitor centre also houses a collection of insects. But unlike the butterflies, these are kept in glass display cases where they happily busy themselves in the realistic environments created for them. One of the more amusing insects was the leaf cutting ant from Trinidad. It is estimated that there are now four million of these ants at the Butterfly and Insect World. Also on display are beetles, locusts, scorpions, grasshoppers, terrapins - and the largest type of spider in the world - definitely not for you if you are arachnophobic!
A number of other "beasties" are on display, including snakes, frogs and a green iguana from Central America. While the insects proved to be very difficult to photograph the iguana was quite happy to pose for the camera!
While wandering around in the butterfly display area, you have to be careful not to stand on these tiny quail scampering around looking for food. If you have never seen quail before you immediately realise why their eggs (found in classy restaurants) are so small!
The Garden Centre
The Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World is right beside a large garden centre - in fact the Head Office of Dobbies, the largest such chain in Scotland. In addition to the great display of plants and garden equipment, it has an excellent restaurant, which is extremely convenient for visitors to the Butterfly World. And there's a children's play area too.
Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World is located on the A6094, south of the Edinburgh City by-pass (take the Gilmerton exit leading to the A7 if travelling east and the Sheriffhall Roundabout if travelling west on the bypass). There is also a bus service from central Edinburgh (currently Monday to Saturday, Lothian Region Transport bus number 3 and Eastern Scottish 80 and 80A from Princes Street (on the shopping side) and SMT number 78 on Sundays).
The Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World's own Web site has details of opening hours and a location map. See also this Location Map (you can enlarge the scale of this map, if required).
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