Translated by Ege ÖZTOKAT

The result of two years of work, Istanbul Butterfly Ranch is located in the nature of Beykoz and its target visitors are mostly kids or students. Founder Çiğdem Ünlü talked about the ranch’s foundation and the story of the butterfly.


Underlining that the ranch was founded for education, Ünlü said, “Our target visitors are mostly students. We inform about the life cycle of the butterfly. At the same time, we try to raise awareness to environment. We explain to children how each effect we have on the ecosystem will come back to us and what kinds of conditions await the world if the butterflies become extinct.” Ranch’s visitors first watch a short movie about butterflies to get prior knowledge about the butterfly.


Ecosystem’s Continuity Depends on Butterflies

Butterflies, just like bees, procure pollination. Plants’ reproduction with pollination depends on bees and butterflies. Ünlü claimed “If the butterflies become extinct plants will be under danger and we will run out of nutritional sources.” and underlined the big importance that butterflies have in the ecosystem.

Butterfly in Four Phases

Butterfly has four phases in its life (egg, caterpillar, pupa, maturity). These life stages all can be observed here. Butterflies first plant eggs on convenient plants. Each species have their different duration of progression in this phase. Some of the eggs turn to caterpillars in one weak, others in two. Caterpillars in this phase start to consume a lot of plantation and grow very fast. When they reach a level of maturity, they form pupas. Pupas’ maturation depends on the species. Caterpillar that come out of the pupa turn into a gel and reproduce their molecules to produce their distinct legs and antennas. Butterflies come out of matured pupas. Once they are mature, butterflies start to fly in a greenhouse with proper heat and humidity.

Since butterflies are tropical, the greenhouse is kept 26 celcius degrees of heat and 80 percent humidity. The greenhouse where different kinds of butterflies fly is filled with proper plantation and gives visitors the opportunity to contact butterflies. There are also different species of birds in the greenhouse.


Butterflies Can Live up to One Year

Ünlü said that butterflies’ lifespan isn’t just one day as it is commonly mistaken to be. She said that average life span for butterflies was 2 to 6 weeks but some kinds can live up to three months and “king butterfly” kind can live up to one year.

The ranch that hosts different types of tropical butterfly species each period of time sometimes receives habitant butterflies from villagers. Ünlü remarked that butterflies mostly belong to the equatorial climate and added “Some butterflies feed on fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas and kiwis; rotten fruits’ juices; flower nectars. When flower nectar isn’t enough to nourish, special solutions get soaked in a sponge and the butterflies feed on this sponge.”


Great Enthusiasm from Children

Ünlü said that children and their families show a great interest in the butterfly ranch. She explained “Families like taking their children to educative day trips. Since there are not many of places of this kind, they are drawn to different places like ours. The fact that the ranch is in the nature is a big advantage.” and added “We like that the butterfly ranch is appreciated and that we are thanked for what we do. The children’s happiness makes us happy too.”

The ranch can also be used for special occasions such as weddings, picnics, parties, birthdays and corporate meetings. There is also a café where the visitors can rest.