Of lepidopterans, owls, bugs and honey in Second Life

Butterfly Conservatory – click any image for full size

A little while ago now, I dropped in on the Butterfly Conservatory to grab a landmark with a view to a possible future blog post – and then promptly let it slip from my mind after filing it. Fortunately for me, there’s the weekly Destination Highlights, and the April 14th edition served as an aide-memoire, prompting me to suggested to Caitlyn we hop over and have a look around.

The work of Ry Heslop and Kacey Heslop (Kacey Delicioso), the Butterfly Conservatory occupies one half of a sky platform above their full region home, where it is located within a delightful garden suited to a range of viewer-side windlights.

From the landing point visitors can follow the footpaths around the garden, either going directly to the conservatory, or taking a more extended walk among the trees and flowers. Along the way they can learn about owls, discover some of Ry Heslop’s photography (offered for sale), find places to sit and enjoy the setting, visit a behind glass collections of bugs and delve into the world of bees and honey.

The gardens are nicely laid out, the meandering path giving a feeling of size beyond that of the space it occupies, with the various points of interest well spaced out along it. The latter helps prevent any feeling of having a wall of information thrown at you every few metres.The display of creepy-crawlies is nicely presented, each of the bugs in its own case; the models are understandably oversized so thy can be studied more easily. The bee display is also nicely laid out, with hives and flowers and bees industriously buzzing around.

Throughout all of this, little groups of butterflies can be found, circling plants and reminding us of the central theme of the gardens. The conservatory itself challenges visitors to find various families of butterfly among the plants within its walls. There are also information boards detailing the life cycle, anatomy and diet of the butterfly – although it would be nice to perhaps see a little more information on the individual families of butterfly represented.

A couple of other minor niggles also occurred. While having in-world display boards maintains a feeling of immersion, some might find them difficult to read. So providing an option for people to gain the info via note card might not go amiss. Also, while we’re warned that bees are endangered / critical to human life and challenged to help save them, we’re not told why (they are responsible for pollinating 70 of the 100 top crop species that feed 90% of the world) or how, thus the warning and challenge are diminished somewhat.

Even so, the Butterfly Conservatory makes for an enjoyable and informative visit. It presents a nicely relaxed environment  with plenty to see and appreciate. So, if you’re looking for something just that little bit different to visit and explore, we can recommend a visit.

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