Student work placement from Harper Adams University
Hi im Sarah, I am currently in my third year at Harper Adams University studying Zoology with Entomology; Entomology is the study of insects.
My course is four years, with my third being a work placement. During my search for a placement, I came across Otters & Butterflies, which was a perfect place for me to work, as it involved looking after the butterflies in the butterfly house.
In my role, I have a variety of jobs that I carry out every day. Through these, I have been able to experience, not just looking after the butterflies but also what goes into maintaining the butterfly house. One of the most important jobs is watering, because this is how the correct humidity and temperature in the greenhouse is maintained, and of course to water the plants. I have also learned about plant maintenance. Did you know that banana trees grow back very quickly? I often have had to cut them back when they grow too tall, but it’s very interesting to see their regrowth. Another resident of the butterfly house is Izzy the green iguana, who I have also had the experience of caring for, whether that is feeding, showering, or cleaning out his pool; which he seems to enjoy using as a toilet!
My favourite job is when we get the pupae delivery to the butterfly house. The species that arrive is random and through this I have learned to recognise the scientific names for the butterflies and I can even recognise some of the pupa which helps when a species sheet has not been given. Once these pupae have arrived, I find bamboo sticks to attach the pupa on with glue. This bit can be very fiddly as some of the pupa, especially the glasswing butterflies (Greta oto) are tiny or the longwing butterflies (Heliconius spp.) are usually wiggling.
Julia butterfly caterpillars
Another part of my role
Another part of my role here has involved giving talks and answering questions about the butterflies, whether that is to schools, coach parties or other visitors. Through this I have been able to share my knowledge and love for these butterflies and improve my communication skills. Also, even though I specifically work in the butterfly house, I have had the opportunity to work with the otters, which has been a fun experience; they are so cute!
Which fruit do butterflies enjoy the most?
During my placement here, I also had to carry out a project for my university degree which Otters & Butterflies allowed me space to do. For my project l was testing which fruit the frugivorous (fruit-feeding) butterflies prefer. Even though apple and banana is the main fruit given to our butterflies, it turns out that black/red grapes were the most preferred. As with any experiment, there were some unexpected situations, such as two ant nests being made in one of the test locations, so it ended up being the only basket to have slate in to try and stop this.
Butterfly spotter sheet
To help me with identifying the butterflies, I created a spotter sheet with photos that myself, Rachel, and Taz took of our butterflies.
Leaf Cutter Ants
I have had an amazing experience working here and learning all about the tropical butterflies and more. I know I shouldn't have favourites but the glasswing butterflies would be mine. Even though these butterflies look very delicate with their transparent wings, they can travel around 7.5 miles in a day. They also have some disgusting feeding habits including eating bird poo and even other dead butterflies, despite their main food source being nectar. But anyway, what would you say is your favourite butterfly?
This is my study in full please click link below to open