Tuesday September 1, 2009
We are away from Judi’s Gardens. This week we’re on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. So we have no fresh pictures from Judi’s Gardens for the Photo of the Day. So for the next few days we’ll be running “special guest garden” pictures that we took at the Butterfly Farm here in St. Thomas.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Butterfly Farm on St. Thomas:
It’s in the shopping plaza that’s right there at the cruise ship dock. It’s down at the south end of the dock:
They have a huge, top-quality screenhouse stocked with non-native (aka exotic aka alien) species of butterflies that they get in on a weekly basis. You’ll see some of these in the Photos of the Day on this web site over the next several days. Steve the Tour Guide gives a clear and succinct explanation of the butterfly life cycle and the caterpillars and butterflies in the screen house. It’s excellent. The gift shop is nice, too. When you’re in St. Thomas, check it out. If you’re on a cruise ship, it couldn’t be any more convenient — it’s just a stroll from your ship.
They’re also trying to establish native species in gardens outside their screen house, but they aren’t part of the usual tour, which focuses on the alien species inside the screen house. Steve talked to us at great length about what you have to do to raise alien species and be in compliance with US laws, and boy, it’s tough. There’s a long list of rules, concerning things right down to the size of the holes in your screening (pretty small), how you have to dispose of plant cuttings from inside the house (incineration), and what to do if a hurricane approaches (fumigate the screen house to kill all butterflies inside). Actually, it makes sense — the Owl Butterfly, for example, has banana trees for a host plant, and if it were to escape into the wild it would decimate the local, native banana tree population.
It made us appreciate how easy and rewarding it is to just raise native species, as we do!
I’ll leave you with a picture of Steve the Tour Guide standing in front of their Chrysalis House:
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