You can now come and see the beautiful electric-blue
Ulysses Swallowtail flying. Breeders sometimes call it the Uselysses butterfly because the breeding is often fraught with problems.
We sought advice from many experts including Garry Sankowsky, Paul Wright, Les and Janice Ring, Tina at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Silka Weyland, Graham Wood, Ross Kendall, Richard Bull and others. We also read many articles on the Ulysses and other touchy species.
As a result of the advice, we have tried to avoid cross contamination by the use of sterilizing foot baths at the doors, hand sanitizing points, foot-operated taps, excellent cross-flow ventilation, fresh sterilised cleaning trays, snips etc for every cage, and many other hygiene improvements to help stop possible spread of disease in the lab.
The Butterfly House itself is covered with 30% shade cloth allowing maximum cross-flow of air so there is no easy build-up of disease problems etc. Our temperatures and humidity on the island are helpful also and our laboratory is climate controlled.
There may sometimes be a gap between batches of eggs maturing into the next lot of spectacular flying butterflies. It will take a while for us to get this butterfly flying continuously.
Ludwig’s Roses and Butterfly House
by Ray Archer
I had four hours to kill at the Johannesburg Airport on 28 October 2010. On enquiry, I found there was a butterfly house and restaurant at a huge commercial rose farm about an hour’s drive to the north, near Pretoria. After a phone call to Halmar to OK a visit, I headed off.
Halmar gave me a warm welcome and handed me over to Rebecca who cares for the butterfly house and who shared the following points of interest.
They buy in most of their chrysalises (pupae) from the Philippines and Tanzania. (In Australia, the strict quarantine laws do not allow us to import eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises or butterflies.)
In their butterfly house, the butterflies’ preferred nectar plant is Pentas lanceolata in red, pink and white, then Verbena in red, white and purple.
Next came Lantana montevidensis which is very pretty and less of a problem than the more invasive Lantana camara in Australia.
After that came Duranta (Geisha Girl) which is the nicely perfumed purple flowered one. They suggested that it be cut back fairly hard after flowering to encourage new growth and flowers.
Last on the list of strong favourites for butterfly nectar was Buddleia davidii. This one is commonly known as the Butterfly Bush. It comes in various pretty colours but the flowers do not last as long as the very popular Pentas flowers.
I guess that, like humans, butterflies also like a variety when it comes to food choices so they have also planted Red Bougainvillea, a white flowered ‘Chicherenchii’ that the local form of Common Eggfly likes for nectar, Plumbago auriculata (also a food plant for the Plumbago Blue butterfly), blue and white flowered Heliotropes, Ageratum, Kalanchoe, red and pink Cestrums as well as Abelia grandiflora.
Ludwigs have a few Chinese Button Quail running around on the ground in the butterfly house. They say they act as a biological pest control agent and eat the small seeds provided as well as unwanted aphids and other small insects.
The main problem they have with parasites are the Tachnid Fly that lays its eggs on the milkweed caterpillars (like the Lesser Wanderer in Australia).
A big thanks goes to Halmar and his team for sharing their valuable time and experience. Their website is www.ludwigsroses.co.za
While searching for information on butterflies, I came across this article on a site called ‘Creation Science’. Interesting.
Most insects (87%) undergo complete metamorphosis. It begins when a larva (such as a caterpillar) builds a cocoon around itself. Then its body inside disintegrates into a thick, pulp-like liquid. Days, weeks, or months later, the adult insect emerges—one that is dramatically different, amazingly capable, and often beautiful, such as a butterfly. Food, habitat, and behaviour of the larva also differ drastically from those of the adult.
Evolution claims that:
Mutations slightly alter an organism’s genetic material, which later generations inherit. On rare occasions the alterations are beneficial, enabling those offspring to reproduce more of themselves and the improved genetic material. [Supposedly] after many generations, dramatic changes, even new organs, accumulate.
If this were true, each organism must be able to reproduce and must be superior, in some sense, to its ancestors. How then could metamorphosis evolve in many stages?
What mutations could improve a larva? Certainly none that destroyed its nerves, muscles, eyes, brain, and most other organs, as occurs within a cocoon. So, even if a larva improved, it later ends up as mush.
From an evolutionary standpoint, liquefying complex organs is a giant step backwards. As Michael Pitman wryly noted, maggots will more or less dissolve themselves when developing into a fly. Was the process pre-programmed from the first production run? Or was the ancestral fly a dissolved maggot?
The millions of changes inside the thick liquid never produce something survivable or advantageous in the outside world until the adult completely forms. How did the genetic material for both larva and adult develop?
Which came first, larva or adult? What mutations could transform a crawling larva into a flying monarch butterfly that can accurately navigate 3,000 miles using antennae and a tiny brain? Indeed, why should a larva evolve in the first place, because it cannot reproduce?
Charles Darwin wrote:
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. Based on metamorphosis alone, evolution breaks down.
Obviously, the vast amount of information that directs every stage of a larva’s and an adult’s development, including metamorphosis, must reside in its genetic material at the beginning. This fits only creation.
Many animals experience an amazing transformation that refutes evolution. One example is the monarch butterfly. As a two-week-old caterpillar (left), it builds a chrysalis around itself (centre). Then its complex organs disintegrate. From an evolution perspective, this should cause the insect’s extinction—a thousand times over.
Two weeks later, a beautiful butterfly emerges with different and even more remarkable capabilities (right). Some people might believe that a complex machine, such as an automobile, evolved by natural processes, but if they saw that machine disintegrate and quickly re-emerge as an airplane, only the most naive and unscientific would still believe that natural processes could produce such marvellous designs.