When you enter the dome, you’re immersed in a magical space full of tropical plants and a world of beautiful butterflies. Stepping into the warm, humid air, it’s not hard to believe you’re in a South American jungle or deep in an Asian wilderness.
The habitats are arranged geographically with specific plants to attract the correct butterflies. Interesting facts are discovered within these spaces, so you really do feel like an explorer. You can also view rows of cocoons at various stages of hatching, which was interesting to see but did not impress the children.
For the kids, the butterflies were not only the stars of the show, they were the only show in town. They squealed with delight as we found ever more elaborate and beautiful butterflies lazily zig-zagging between the flowers and specially constructed feeding tables.
There was a climbing frame, that didn’t seem to have much purpose but the kids enjoyed climbing up to survey from the platform. We saw local herbs, vegetables and flowers all enticing insect life to congregate there. You could even hold up a kaleidoscope to see a “butterfly eye view” of the compound.
You then really appreciated the second half of the hothouse, marvelling at the evolutionary forces that have shaped one insect in so many forms. A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a morning – who could fail to smile with so much natural beauty before them?
Butterfly Explorers is on at the NHM until 26 September. Get your tickets at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/butterfly-explorers