The Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust (SBBT) inaugurated the first World Swallowtail Day (WSD) on 9th June 2019. The Trust invited commitment to WSD from like-minded organisations worldwide and received nineteen sign-ups. Summaries of their diverse events are below.
The project announcement document called for the events to enable local people to get closer to swallowtails by visiting them in their natural habitats, studying them in sustainably managed butterfly houses, botanical and zoological gardens, and by learning more about them in the company of experts in universities, schools, museums and research centres. A secondary aim was to raise financial and volunteer support to help swallowtails in need both locally and globally.
In the UK, the Trust celebrated WSD at Wheatfen Reserve, Ted Ellis Trust, Surlingham, Norfolk, with a rolling series of lectures in a marquee, interspersed with visits to the reserve to view the British Swallowtail and its immature stages. Over 200 people attended.
WSD registrants were asked to provide a short report on their event, together with pictures and or video if possible. The response to this was mixed.
The intention is to continue promoting World Swallowtail Day on an annual basis. In 2020 WSD will be celebrated on Sunday 14th June. SBBT will again celebrate at Wheatfen Reserve, Norfolk.
SBBT advertised the event through its website, Facebook, Twitter and the Papilio! Newsletter.
SBBT produced a professionally designed poster, two pop-up banners and two vinyl display banners (one of each for WSD and the other for the Trust). These designs were shared free of charge with registrants for their use. A Trust flyer was also designed.
Materials and Resources
The Trust produced a Resource Pack free of charge to support registered organisations. This consisted of:
- Bespoke WSD banner and poster designs for local printing and use (thanks go to Rob Chetwood)
- A Powerpoint presentation about the Swallowtail family (thanks go to Dick Vane-Wright and Mark Collins)
- A Children’s Colouring Book of swallowtails to print and distribute locally (thanks to Mel Collins)
- A 4-page document about conservation of Swallowtails, for local printing (thanks go to Mark Collins).
The Trust obtained a generous and much-appreciated grant from the Stratford Butterfly Farm.
Summary Reports from Registrants
- Botanical Garden of P.J.Šafárik University, Slovakia, Martin Suvák
This organisation annually organizes a butterfly show for its visitors, with live butterflies from different parts of the world, including swallowtails from Asia, America and Africa. This year they also prepared a special poster showing details of swallowtails, their importance in nature and the need for protection worldwide, drawing attention to local species too. Two species (Papilio machaon and Iphiclides podalirius) naturally occur in the outdoor area of the botanical garden, while three other Slovak species (Parnassius apollo, Parnassius mnemosyne and Zerynthia polyxena) are extremely rare and protected by law. Materials were printed, including the Colouring Book and a guide provided visitors with additional information about WSD. Information was published on the website (https://www.upjs.sk/working/botanicka-garden/activities/day-vidlochostov-090619/).
- British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, UK, Cerian Tatchley
BIAZA publicised WSD through its newsletter to its membership across the UK. The overall response is not known, but the registration was appreciated as many zoos now keep butterflies.
3. International Association of Butterfly Exhibitors and Suppliers, Netherlands, L-J Nederloff
IABES advertised WSD to its 250-strong membership through its newsletter Flutterings. The take-up was modest across the IABES network, but three very nice accounts appeared in Flutterings, prominently displaying the WSD banner. From these modest beginnings it is hoped that the industry will build greater participation in 2020.
- Missouri Botanical Garden, USA, Laura Chisholm
Guests joined their iNaturalist Project Pollinator group and learned about native swallowtails, then headed into the theatre to create their own watercolour swallowtail and watch a movie about swallowtails created by Cassidy Moody and hosted by Chris Hartley. They explored the Native Garden to learn how to create a butterfly garden. As they left, they could help support SBBT by a donation and receive a Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), the host plant of the Black Swallowtail, as a thank you. Results were: 459 general visitors (122 members); 64 plants given away, $85.51 donation for SBBT and 140 watercolour Swallowtails created. Missouri produced an excellent short video illustrating World Swallowtail Day (below).
5. Monteserra Butterfly House, Sicily, Italy, Susanna Caruso
During their normal guided tours this butterfly house in Sicily, on the slopes of Mt Etna, held special talks about swallowtails, showed visitors the orchard and garden designed to attract Sicilian butterflies and gave children the SBBT Colouring Book, which they had translated into Italian.
- National Trust, Norfolk, UK, Alex Green
The National Trust used the World Swallowtail Day brand to boost their Swallowtail Day at the Horsey Windpump on the Norfolk coast.
- Natural History Musem, London, UK, Blanca Huertas
The Natural History Museum’s Curator of Butterflies, Blanca Huertas, presented two public lectures on butterflies and their conservation. Blanca delivered her talk ‘Vibrant Butterflies’ in the Attenborough Studio. It was a 30 minute hosted talk in front of a live audience of visitors including families. She spoke about her role as a curator, the diversity of butterflies generally, as well as focussing on the swallowtails – why they are important, where we find them, how they differ from other butterflies. She also spoke about conservation efforts around the world. Visitors were able to see specimens from the Museum’s collection and ask her questions about swallowtails. Specimens included the British swallowtail –Papilio machaon britannicus and the birdwing butterflies. The talk was delivered twice on Sunday 9th June – at 12.30 and 2.30pm, with audiences of 30-60 people.
- Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists Society, Norwich, UK, Carl Chapman
NNNS announced World Swallowtail Day at their 150th Anniversary event and Open Day on 8th June 2019 at How Hill Nature Reserve, a famous swallowtail breeding site, with planned events, walks, meal and photographic competition results. Unfortunately, the weather was very poor and the event was not as successful as hoped, with no butterflies flying.
- Operation Wallacea, Spilsby, UK, Tim Coles
A coffee morning was held at OW’s headquarters in Old Bolingbroke on Monday 10 June.
- Papiliorama, Switzerland, Chantal Derungs
The Papiliorama Foundation in Switzerland is a member of IABES and conducted the following activities for World Swallowtail Day: An information stand on Sunday, the 9th of June and an Instagram photo contest around the 9th of June.
- Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network, Australia, Christine Hosking
The Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Forum was held on 20th June 2019 as a contribution to World Swallowtail Day. Prior to this RBCN circulated information about the Forum and displayed material sent by SBBT at the Forum. Also, Wildlife Queensland (WPSQ), which is the umbrella organisation for the RBCN, promoted WSD on its website and Facebook page.
- Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Stephen Sutton
The courtship dance of the rare Kinabalu Birdwing Butterfly Troides andromache is unknown but has been observed in the Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing. Many male butterflies have scent scales on their wings from which perfumes (pheromones) can be wafted down on a female to persuade her to accept a mating. This led to the idea of a dance to engage the imagination of young people by creating a courtship dance for the village dance group at Kiau, high on Mt Kinabalu (summit 4,095m) to promote conservation awareness among the villagers. Lily Banati, the manager of the dance troupe, took up the idea and, with choreographers from the village, created the dance. In the village version, perfume wafting is shown by delicate hand movements. Close, but never touching. It takes the traditional Dusun folk dance form and extends it into something new and creative, while quite closely reflecting what happens in nature. It is a graceful and entertaining insight into the natural capital (heritage) the young people of the village are inheriting, enacted by themselves. A video was made and funding has been found for a professional shoot after more rehearsal and coaching.
- Stratford Butterfly Farm, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK, Jane Kendrick
On Saturday 8th June Charles Dewhurst (ex SBBT Board) joined SBF and held two presentations on swallowtail butterflies and worked alongside the Education Officer, John Withers who presented a lifecycle demonstration. On Sunday 9th June, John once again held lifecycle demonstrations and Rebecca from Rebecca’s Butterfly Farm joined in and filmed a couple of vlogs with John for her You Tube channel, which she also posted on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. Over the weekend of the World Swallowtail Butterfly Day celebrations Stratford had 1,464 visitors at the Butterfly Farm, raising considerable awareness.
- Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust, John Parnell
The Trust had an excellent event at Wheatfen. More than a dozen lectures were given by Tony Irwin, Andy Brazil, Mark Collins and John Parnell. Susie Hills and Hamish Lillywhite also described their MSc research. These lectures were presented in a large marquee with seating. Tables outside were used for the Colouring Books. Pop-up banners and large vinyl banners completed the display. Tony Irwin brought along a case of world swallowtails from the Norwich Museum. John Parnell produced an excellent video of the event.
- Ted Ellis Trust, Will Fitch
A day of guided tours around the reserve, showing members of the public Swallowtail Butterflies, their eggs, caterpillars and food plant. A couple of Swallowtail themed talks will also be given by experts throughout the day at set times, alongside stalls and displays from a couple of butterfly related charities.
- The Living Rainforest, Thatcham, UK, Rachel Richards
This visitor centre gave a projected presentation about swallowtails and the threats they face. They also had display boards about the different species. For young children they had butterfly themed activities for them to enjoy.
- Nature Society Singapore and Wildlife Reserves, Singapore
They hosted the first Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Race in Singapore on 29 June 2019, with nine teams racing to spot the maximum number of Swallowtail and Birdwing butterfly species in Singapore and take the ‘Best Photo Of The Day’. Four papilionids are listed in the Singapore Red Data Book. The Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae asteris) was voted as the people’s choice for National Butterfly of Singapore in 2015. The other species at risk are the Common Birdwing (Troides helena cerberus), the Common Jay (Graphium doson evemonides) and the Blue Helen (Papilio prexaspes prexaspes). The Common Jay is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ as there is concern that the principal colony in Pulau Ubin may not be sustainable. Tthe other three are ‘Vulnerable’. Participants learned about the state and conservation efforts of in Singapore and globally, about host plants and about Singapore’s conservation efforts towards butterflies. Best photo went to Team Flying Colors for a pair of Common Mimes. Runner-up photo went to Team Zevoll for a resting Lime butterfly. Team Jayded was overall winner for spotting the maximum number (8 species) of Swallowtails and Birdwings. This was followed by the Team Oakblue which recorded 6 species.
- University of the South Pacific, Fiji, Visheshni Chandra
Visheshni Chandra at the University of South Pacific, Suva, planned a public lecture on Fiji swallowtail butterflies and endangered swallowtail butterflies as well as an outreach programme for local communities on Papilio natewa.
- Zoological Society of London, UK, Monika Bohm
Monika produced an excellent podcast of an interview with SBBT Chair Mark Collins, recorded in the London Zoo Butterfly House. This was loaded onto the Trust’s website, the ZSL website and was distributed via the SBBT Newsletter Papilio! Click the link below and scroll down to No. 21 to listen to it: ZSL Podcast 21: World Swallowtail Day