Farm hosts butterfly aficionados
ISTANBUL – Anadolu AgencyThose who want to observe the colorful and delicate members of nature can visit the Istanbul Butterfly Farm in Zerzevatçı village in Istanbul’s Beykoz district.
Established by chemistry teacher Çiğdem Ünlü, the farm is home to 450 butterflies and receives some 1,500 visitors a week. The visitors are first shown a 20-minute film depicting the stories of butterflies. The film provides information about their biological structures, life cycles and camouflage secrets.
After the film screening, visitors are taken to the greenhouse, which is equipped with tropical plants loved by butterflies. They fly to every corner of the greenhouse, where it is possible to see each stage of the insect’s life cycle, which first embarks on its life as an egg, then becomes a caterpillar, pupa and finally reaches adulthood. Visitors experience watching butterflies eat on small tables decorated with oranges, kiwis and bananas.
The farm is home to the tropical species from South American and Asian countries only.
The owl butterfly is one of the most fascinating ones among the species in the greenhouse. The species takes its name after its big eyes on its wing, which helps it protect itself from hunters and survive for longer.
An exciting experience
Ünlü said they were happy to bring such a haven for butterflies to Istanbul. Stating that the farm was located on a green and large field, she noted that it was visited by 1,500 people from Istanbul and other cities during spring.
She said Turkey was home to 460 types of butterfly species and 200,000 in the world of moths.
“We are the richest in Europe. The ‘Sultan’ butterfly found in Adana is a migrating one. It migrates to a distance as far as 3,000 kilometers and returns, but their number falls because of agricultural chemicals and stubble fires done by villagers,” she said, adding that their goal was to draw attention to the functions of the butterflies in nature.
Ünlü said she gives lessons on butterflies to students visiting the farm. “Butterflies are very important for pollination in nature. Just like bees, they provide pollination, which is the reproduction of plants. Destruction of pollination means the end of life. We need to protect these animals for nature and our future,” she added.
Life span not one day
She said that contrary to general belief, the life spans of butterflies were not one day, but that it could live from two weeks to three months depending on their species.
She added that the longest ever lived by a butterfly was one year.
“In order to keep the farm alive, we bring cocoon from abroad. When they mature, they are taken to the butterfly garden. The pupa stage is different for each butterfly; it changes between three weeks to five-six months. Some enter hibernation. The Atlas moth, the largest butterfly in the world, has a 30-centimeter wingspan. You can see the pupa and butterfly at the farm. The smallest butterfly is the western pygmy blue. Its wingspan is 12 millimeters only. The leaf butterfly looks like a dead leaf when it is on a tree, in order to escape danger,” she added.
Ünlü said butterflies had adopted fascinating methods to protect themselves from animals but are becoming extinct as they could not protect themselves from human beings.
“Chemicals used in agriculture, climate change and the replacement of natural vegetation with concrete buildings are endangering them. You can keep their favorite plants in your garden or balcony and collect butterflies around you such as the butterfly bush, lantana or camellia. You can visit the butterfly farm throughout nine months a year,” she said.