A trip to a butterfly garden in the United Kingdom inspired a Turkish woman to set up her own butterfly farm with special climate conditions.
Çiğdem Ünlü, after seeing beautiful butterfly gardens in other countries, decided to create one for herself on her farm in Istanbul's Beykoz district back in 2013. Today, the farm hosts about 800 colorful winged beauties.
Ünlü welcomes visitors at the farm and allows them to feast their eyes on the rich splash of flamboyant colors of the butterflies, for which she has provided the perfect habitat by creating a tropical climate in the garden as she takes special care of all the 15 different kinds of butterfly species.
The temperature is always kept at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity is maintained at 80% in the garden.
Ünlü said that she had come across butterfly gardens upon visits to foreign lands. "We first saw a butterfly garden in Stratford, the town where Shakespeare was born and wrote his wonderful works. We said, 'We should do this in Turkey,'" she said.
"We are both environmentalists," Ünlü told Anadolu Agency (AA). "We decided to establish this farm so that children can be free of shopping malls and can get to know the natural environment, witness the beauty of butterflies and learn what benefits butterflies have for us."
"After long stages, we worked for two years and then we brought our first butterflies to Istanbul, here to Beykoz," she said.
Ünlü noted that the natural environment they had created was essential to ensure a healthy life for the butterflies.
She said that the open area of the farm was 4 to 5 acres (1.62 to 2 hectares), while the size of the butterfly garden was approximately 500 square meters (5,382 square feet).
"All over the world in butterfly gardens, tropical butterflies are chosen for exhibition because of their vibrant colors, beautiful shapes and large wings. For that, you have to create a tropical climate. This place has been specially acclimatized at 28 degrees temperature and about 80% humidity," Ünlü said.
She added: "The plants are also suitable for the butterflies to feed on and also those that caterpillars like. There are plants from abroad and Anatolia. We also have many types of trees. These are trees that both butterflies and caterpillars love."
Ünlü noted that there were 15 species of butterflies in the farm, and that number could vary depending on the pupae. She explained that there were new pupae every 15 days at the farm.
"You can see about 800 butterflies in the garden. They need our care every day because it needs to be moist here. The plants are constantly taken care of," she said and explained the ins and outs of the garden. "We cannot use anything with chemicals because it harms the butterflies. Butterflies feed on sugary water. That's why we always keep sugary water or fruit around if we don't have enough flowers."
"Butterflies don't have mouths, they have proboscis. They can only drink liquids with their proboscis. For this reason, we keep all kinds of liquids they can drink here, just like we drink with a straw."
Ünlü touched upon a special species of butterfly called Atlas moth – or Attacus atlas – saying that its wing spread could reach up to 30 centimeters (11 inches).
"Moths and butterflies come from the same family, the Lepidoptera family. There are 200,000 species of Lepidoptera in the world. Atlas is one of them. One is always asked which is the biggest – Atlas is the biggest."
Ünlü said that the farm welcomed nearly 200,000 visitors a year, and that it offered something different compared to other such gardens around the world.
Ünlü explained that they displayed a film called "The Story of the Butterfly" to visiting children, and afterward they would explain the benefits of these creatures for the ecosystem.
She said that butterflies, like bees, help plants reproduce. "Without butterflies, none of us can survive. With the damage we inflict on the environment, we destroy their nature and habitats. Chemical pesticides used in agriculture also kill creatures such as ladybugs, ants, bees and butterflies," she said.
"The most important thing to do at this point is to raise public awareness. And to do this there is a need for education. This awareness would be created, especially if this subject is taught in schools."
Ünlü stated that they wanted to exhibit species that are difficult to find in Turkey on the farm.
She underlined that butterflies are naive, beautiful, artistic, very powerful and important creatures.
"For example, there are butterflies that can migrate 3,500 kilometers (2,174 miles). In America, monarch butterflies can travel 3,500 kilometers from Canada to Mexico. Can you imagine, they can fly like birds. But besides that, they are also very beneficial for nature.
"Because by landing on flower after flower, they carry pollen, enabling the plants to multiply."
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.