Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Favorite Things - Butterflies

So in an attempt to explain some of the pictures from our vacation, I thought I would go into some detail on what we did.

First off, the Butterfly Conservatory.

You enter into a gift shop, then buy your tickets and go into a room describing the unique characteristics of Lepidoptera (which means "scaly wing"). In the room is a movie playing that reminded me of the films made in the mid- to late-sixties that we watched growing up in the seventies. Also in the room are some terrariums with various other tropical animals like the Red Eye Tree Frog (which we couldn't photograph because it was hiding). Then you go through some heavy doors and enter the butterfly room.

The first thing to hit you is the heat. Now I have to admit that this is more intense in Vallejo at the park formerly known as Marine World, because there is also the high humidity. It's probably kept close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and I'd bet 80 to 90% humidity. And flying through this atmospheric soup are butterflies.

Hundreds of them.

Groups of large, bright-blue ones with plain brown outer wings chasing each other around. Small black ones with red slashes. Large black ones with a small streak of yellow and a yellow body. Even the occasional orange and black monarch or the yellow and black swallow-tail. There are even several giant sphinx moths.

You wander through a sinuous path watching where you step, and then you hear the bird song. They are mostly little finch-like looking birds, but we so one with two long tail feathers, and two little birds like white/gray partridges. And then there was the little green bird with a slightly curved beak.

There is a pond with koi and cichlids and plecostomus. The koi are good sized, and in among them swim the jeweled blue cichlids. The plants were lush and several were related to one I keep in my office. The one in my office is maybe a foot tall from the ground and seems happy in the window. The ones in the conservatory (and later out and about on the island) were almost three feet tall, but kept the spindly trunks like mine has. Others plants are like ones I'd seen for landscaping, but never so large and happy.

As I think I've said, we spent two hours with the butterflies on our first visit, and then another hour our second visit. Jennifer had a rider almost immediately on her right shoulder. It stayed with her for at least half an hour. Later when she decided to sit down and just experience, one with very tattered wings landed on her lap.

We finally moved on and saw the hatching room where they place any chrysalis they find and wait for the new butterflies and moths to come out, and then release them into the butterfly room the next day once their winds have hardened.

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