Breeders a-flutter over butterflies
Hundreds of rare tropical butterflies have been bred from seven abandoned pupae, it has been announced.
Breeders at Butterfly World in Hertfordshire revealed the kaleidoscope of Heliconius chestertonii - the only ones of their kind in Europe.
The beautiful tropical insects, which have luminous blue and black wings with a yellow band, are originally from the mountains of Colombia.
Butterfly expert Clive Farrell was entrusted with the pupae from a friend who could no longer look after them due to high costs of heating.
He was given them in insulated boxes with each pupae carefully wrapped in cotton wool and set about creating the optimum conditions to give them the best chance of hatching.
"Incredibly every one of the fragile Heliconius chestertonii pupae hatched successfully, and thankfully revealed two pairings which enabled us to start a breeding project," said Mr Farrell.
"Over the following winter and spring months we managed to breed hundreds of this rare and beautiful butterfly and we have introduced them to the butterfly house at Butterfly World for everyone to enjoy.
"It is perhaps the most beautiful of all the smaller tropical species with dark blue iridescent wings with yellow bands.
"We are incredibly proud to have bred this amazing species at Butterfly World and to be able to teach people about conserving our precious butterflies."
The butterflies were introduced to the public at the opening of an expansion of Butterfly World, at Chiswell Green, near St Albans.