Of all the marvelous adventures we had on our trip to St. Maarten/St. Martin, I of course, must start by posting photos from La Ferme des Papillons. The butterfly nerd wants what the butterfly nerd wants. If you are lucky enough to visit that beautiful little island, you simply must plan to make a stop at the farm. We arrived early in the morning, just after a rain storm, and it was magical.
The incredible Dead Leaf Butterfly…folded up, looks just like a…(wait for it)… dead leaf.
Eggs on a banana leaf.
Young larvae of the Giant Owl Eye munching on a banana leaf.
A nearly full-grown Owl Eye larvae.
The Giant Owl Eye Butterfly (can you tell I love this butterfly?).
I was thrilled to see monarchs here (all the species represented at the farm are non-native). Our tour guide discussed the dwindling monarch population in America and, of course, got to hear me gush about my monarch-centric garden back home. This garden was full of gorgeous tropical milkweed that all the butterflies were going ape over.
The curators of the farm collect many of the chrysalises they find and keep them safely in vented cupboards. These are opened every morning to release any new hatchlings. I was fascinated by these cupboards, and took billions of photos (of which I will mostly spare you)–they are treasure boxes lined with tidy rows of enchanting little charms. So breathtaking to see them displayed like this.
Particularly fascinating were the cocoons of the Atlas Moth, spun inside dried leaves as camouflage.
And…speaking of which:
By far, the most memorable moment of the farm (and maybe the whole trip for me), was getting to hold an Atlas Moth in the palm of my hand. The world’s largest moth…these things only live for seven days!!!
This is one of those creatures that makes me lose my breath. It is so incredible that this thing exists–it seems like a prop out of some fantasy/science fiction movie. Right? How is this thing even real!!!
And in case you were wondering…the island, itself, was teaming with indigenous butterflies–everywhere you looked things were just alive with them:
I don’t mean to overshadow the gloriousness of the rest of the island with my trip to the butterfly farm–I just get overly excited about butterfly farms and pavilions and gardens (ya don’t say!!!). Stay tuned for a subsequent post with non-butterfly highlights from the trip that look a little something like this:
St. Maarten/St. Martin is pretty easy on the eyeballs, let me tell ya.
Tagged: Atlas Moth, butterflies, butterfly, butterfly farm, butterfly farm St. Martin, Caribbean, caribbean vacation, ferme des papillons, french St. Martin, Giant Owl Eye butterfly, monarch, pollinator garden, St. Maarten, St. Martin, swallowtail butterfly, travel, what to do in St. Maarten, what to do in St. Martin