Student work placement from Harper Adams University

Sarah Moore

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.

My Role

Pupae Delivery

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


(Dryas iulia)

Over winter it can get very cold in the butterfly house, so I reared some Julia butterfly caterpillars (Dryas iulia) at home to help them grow into chrysalis. I then brought the chrysalis back so that they could hatch in the butterfly house. This was an interesting experience as I got to see their life cycle up close and see how big they got. I also reared the pale owl butterfly caterpillars (Caligo memnon) but they were a little harder to rear as the banana tree leaves were so big and did not last very long when cut.


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 like best?

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

Leaf cutter Ants

Other than my placement project I also had other side projects that I was working on. One of my side projects was designing and building the leafcutter ant exhibit. There were many different iterations of designs for the exhibit as there were many aspects to consider. I also created an informative PowerPoint about the ants and rainforest music to bring the room to life, especially whilst waiting for their arrival. 



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

Many Thanks