A Forest for Butterflies | God's World News

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A Forest for Butterflies
News Shorts
Posted: May 23, 2024
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    Ornithologist Francesca Rossi holds a newborn female Attacus lorquinii at the MUSE greenhouse in Trento, Italy. (AP/Luca Bruno)
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    Butterfly chrysalides hang in the nursery at the MUSE greenhouse. (AP/Luca Bruno)
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    Ornithologist Francesca Rossi shows a female chrysalis. (AP/Luca Bruno)
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    The male of a Tauraco livingstonii, a species of bird, feeds the female at the MUSE greenhouse. (AP/Luca Bruno)
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Have you ever visited a butterfly habitat? How about a butterfly habitat high in the mountains?

In a lush greenhouse in the Alps, butterflies flutter freely. Baby butterflies are still “cooking.” They hang in chrysalides while they grow into adults. (Chrysalides is the plural of chrysalis—the shell a caterpillar builds around itself while it waits to change into a butterfly.)

Welcome to the Butterfly Forest in Trento, Italy. An Italian museum called the Museo delle Scienze (MUSE) got it started. The forest exists in the Alps. But it’s designed to look like a butterfly forest far, far away in the African country Tanzania. It’s modeled after butterfly hotspots in the Udzungwa Mountains. To make a copy of that place, people planted Tanzanian plants. They brought in birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates from different parts of the world. All this beauty and life exists in a comparatively tiny spot—about 6,400 square feet. But this area is a paradise. It has forests, cliffs, and even a waterfall.

People will visit the Butterfly Forest. They’ll learn about the research MUSE is doing in Udzungwa Mountains. They’ll learn about protecting biodiversity.

Think back to the garden of Eden. God filled it with plants and animals of many kinds. He loves variety! And that variety can be seen in every part of His world. But what happens when people cut down large chunks of forests and plant life? Animals lose their homes. Butterflies can’t get enough nectar. Migration, mating, and development patterns change. This is happening in many places. Butterfly populations are shrinking.

Butterflies are pollinators. They enable plants to reproduce. In other words—no pollinators, no food! Butterflies are also prey for birds and other animals.

So butterflies are a big deal. Scientists watch them closely. When butterflies are in trouble, it usually means other parts of their habitat are in trouble too.

Lisa Angelini is a botanist (plant scientist). She’s in charge of the MUSE greenhouse.  “Our aim is that of being able to study better, to understand better what is happening,” she says.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. — Genesis 2:15