Dubai: Tens of thousands of colourful butterflies flutter around you, as you walk through an indoor garden filled with greenery and colourful flowers. You will see anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 butterflies when you walk through the Dubai Butterfly Garden, which is claimed to be the "world's largest covered butterfly garden".
We took a tour around the aviary to find out more about these delicate, winged creatures.
Three weeks of stunning beauty: A butterfly's life cycle
"A butterfly, generally, lives up to two to three weeks," explained Gee Thea, a tour guide at the garden.
At the Dubai Butterfly Garden, you can learn everything about different types of butterflies – like their types, metamorphosis, lifecycle, and behaviours.
"Friendly tour guides help you navigate the garden, located in Al Barsha South, right next to the Dubai Miracle Garden. The Butterfly Garden comprises ten temperature-controlled domes, divided into four zones based on the species of the butterflies. Visitors can observe and interact with the butterflies," said Thea.
As you enter the garden that sprawls across 6,673 square meters, you step into a large butterfly museum. Here you will see artworks and mosaics made using preserved butterflies and fallen butterfly wings. Some noteworthy artworks include portraits of UAE Rulers.
If you have any questions about any species of butterflies you see, all you have to do is just ask one of the guides and they will answer your queries.
Around 50 to 60 varieties of butterflies
Thea explained: "We have different types of butterflies around 50 to 60 varieties, mostly from Costa Rica, Philippines, Thailand such as Paper Kite Butterfly, Blue Morpho, Giant Owl Butterfly, Egg Fly Butterfly, Great Mormon Butterfly, and others."
In Zone 1 of the Dubai Butterfly Garden, you will also see one of the largest moth species in the world, the Atlas Moth or the Attacus Atlas. These moths have a maximum wingspan of about 10 inches.
Flower nectar and fruit feeding stations
The garden staff take extreme care of the health and diet of the butterflies.
Each and every dome of the Dubai Butterfly Garden is specifically built in accordance with the requirements of the butterflies. The domes grow nectar plants called butterfly bush (Buddleia Davidii) and butterfly weeds (Asclepias Tuberosa).
"Regularly, we give them slices of overripe fruits such as bananas and oranges aside from the nectar that they are taking from the flowers," she added.
Visitors will notice these slices of fruits kept on feeding stations placed across the domes. They are discouraged from touching or distubing the butterflies when they are feeding.
The domes recreate a natural environment that's comfortable for the butterflies. "The domes have built-in air conditioners and the temperature is set at least at 24 degrees Celsius to 30 degree Celsius, according to the needs of the butterflies and plants. We regularly control and monitor the temperatures," Thea added.
Each of the 10 domes is climatised in accordance with the requirements of the specific butterfly species. You will see different species in the four zones of the garden.
Don't hold the butterflies by their wings
One of the concerns that the Dubai Butterfly Garden staff have is the safety of the butterflies as people interact with them. "We give a general brief or instruction to the guests before entering the garden and we have visual signages showing park rules. Also, there are our tour guides for assistance."
There are small interaction stations in each zone, called gazebos, where people can learn more about the butterflies in that zone. A guide will help you interact with the butterflies, if you stand still you might get lucky and get a picture of one sitting on you. At these stations, the guides will also tell you the right way you can get a butterfly to climb on to your fingers.
Visitors are requested not to catch butterflies by their wings as this might cause their wings to break off. Once broken, butterfly wings do not grow back.
While touching a butterfly's wings may not kill it immediately, it could potentially speed up the fading of the colors on the butterfly's wings. In the wild, this would wipe out patterns that are used to protect the butterfly from predators. It can also cause the scales to come off, which can cause some damage to the wings.
• Bringing foods and drinks inside the garden are strictly prohibited. These could attract ants, spiders and other butterfly predators.
• Please don't leave your things unattended. We (the management) will not be responsible for any lost belongings.
• Butterflies like to rest on leaves and pathways, please watch your steps while rounding.Please don't pick up or disturb the butterflies while they are feeding.
• Taking photos for the butterflies is allowed. However, please ask any staff for assistance.
• Children should be supervised by their parents/guardians.
• Touching the butterfly wings is prohibited. Let us help them live longer.
• Please don't cross the restricted areas to avoid any potential damages.
Visitors also need to keep in mind that loud noises, like children screeaming or running amok around the domes can scare the butterflies. "They are sensitive creatures, people need to follow park instructions," added Thea.
Ticket costs and timings
The regular ticket price of the Dubai Butterfly Garden is just Dh55.
Kids below two years of age and people of determination can enter free of cost.
You can buy the tickets at the site or online, on www.dubaibutterflygarden.com, to avoid standing in a queue.
The Dubai Butterfly Garden is open from 9am to 6pm on weekdays and weekends, throughout the year.
Weekdays are less crowded, for those wanting to visit the garden.
The garden also has a small pond with fish, a cafe, a mini movie theatre for children, children's workshop areas, and a gift shop if you want to take home a souvenir.