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Beautiful Flying Machines in Vienna

Photo credit: Suzanne D Williams on Unsplash

The Most Beautiful Flying Machines at Home in Vienna

Photo credit: David Clode on Unsplash

Everyone has heard of Airbus, Boeing, Zeppelin and Rolls Royce but how about Morpho Peleides, Caligo Eurilochus, Rumanzovia, and Monarch? These are the names of some of the butterflies which you can experience, year round, if you happen to be in Vienna, Austria.

Right in the centre of the city, the Kaiser's private palm house has been turned into a magnificent flight area for tropical butterflies from all around the world. The actual building is an archaeological gem, an extravagant 19th century Jugendstil construction, recognized throughout Europe as one of the most magnificent buildings of that style. Once inside, you have entered the amazing world of tropical butterflies. It takes a couple of minutes to adjust to the new environment, as the temperature is a constant 26 °C but the high humidity makes it feel tropical.

The vegetation is also tropical and you can hear a waterfall crashing down, it is an environment which excites all of one's senses. Suddenly as if from nowhere, butterflies come whizzing past. The blue Morpho, the brown Caligo, the red and black Rumanzovia and many more. At any one time the Schmetterlinghaus is home to around 500 butterflies of about thirty different species. This does not mean that they are all airborne at the same time. Some will be flying looking for food, mates or perhaps just enjoying the magnificence of their home, whilst others will be sitting sipping nectar from flowers, resting on leaves or sucking on sliced bananas and apples.

Blue Morpho from S.America
An unusual white morpho feeding on rotting banana
Asian Female Rumanzovia waiting for the more colourful male
The S.American Postman butterfly

The butterflies are bred in captivity by the Schmetterlinghaus, in various places such as Thailand and Suriname and flown to Vienna as cocoons or pupae, to emerge in this wonderful environment as fully developed butterflies. The whole development from egg to caterpillar to pupae and finally to a butterfly can be experienced at the Imperial Butterfly House. Some years ago there was an advertising campaign claiming that there were more take offs' and landings at the Schmetterlinghaus than at Vienna International Airport and I think that claim might very well be correct.

The Imperial Butterfly House, part of the Hofburg Palace, has been a public attraction for the last 25 years and is now a permanent museum, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

Stephen Fried lives in Tel Aviv together with his wife Marie. Stephen is the owner of the Schmetterlinghaus: 



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Friday, 21 June 2024

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