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Butterfly tunnel
butterfly tunnel
butterfly emerging from chrysallis

Butterfly tunnel

Come rain or shine, our plant-filled tropical tunnel is a magical place. Spot the butterflies, identify the species and learn about the butterfly lifecycle. 

Enjoy our butterfly tunnel from mid-May to October

Each year, our butterfly tunnel opens in mid-may, offering an opportunity to spend time in a tropical habitat watching butterflies from South America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines and Australasia flit through flowering plants. You can also learn all about the lifecycle of butterflies and other fun butterfly facts from our displays.

Each pupa is carefully attached to a stick and placed in a humid cabinet until they hatch. They are then released into the flight area. The plants in the tunnel have been selected to encourage egg-laying, so do look out for caterpillars and eggs underneath the leaves - and watch your step too! Some butterflies may be found on the ground.

You may be lucky enough for a butterfly to land on you! They can sometimes be attracted to bright clothing, and some species also like our salty skin. Please make sure you're not carrying any hitchhikers when you leave the tunnel so they stay healthy and happy.

Butterflies at the Rare Breeds Centre

A small sampling of the butterflies found in our butterfly tunnel

We hope that our butterfly tunnel will educate and inspire you to look for and help conserve moths and butterflies in the wild and your local area.

Butterfly Conservation

In July each year, the Butterfly Conservation project conducts the Big Butterfly Count. This is a great way to learn about local native species, identify them and help to monitor their numbers. Butterflies are key indicator species which are sensitive to changes in the environment, and have seen a collapse in numbers in Britain during the past three decades.

More than three-quarters of the 60 species found in the British Isles are in decline. For more information you can go to: and

Why isn't our Butterfly tunnel open year-round?

We are often asked why we close our butterfly tunnel for part of the year. The reason lies in the origins of our butterflies, many of which come from tropical habitats. To thrive, both the butterflies and the plants they rely on need heat, humidity, and ample daylight—conditions that are scarce during the colder, darker months of the northern hemisphere.

While some butterflies feed on rotting fruit, others rely on nectar or pollen from specific flowering plants that bloom only during our butterfly tunnel open season. By operating from May to October, we align with the natural life cycles of our butterfly species and the growth cycles of the plants they depend on. 

The optimal environment for tropical butterflies

Our butterfly tunnel is maintained at the ideal temperature and humidity levels for our tropical butterflies and plants. As a result, misters activate intermittently, creating a consistently hot and humid environment. This climate can be overwhelming for some visitors, especially during the summer months. If you need a break from the heat, feel free to step outside and cool down.

While you're here, don't miss our Children's Barn, where visitors of all ages can meet and pet a variety of friendly animals. It's a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some hands-on fun with our barnyard friends.