From chomping caterpillars to beautiful butterflies, the Natural History Museum comes alive today with the opening of its Amazing Butterflies exhibition.
A tropical butterfly house, giant outdoor maze and butterfly garden take over the front lawn of the Museum for the summer.
Butterflies have one of the planet's most amazing life cycles. Some species of caterpillars disguise themselves as snakes and the monarch butterfly migrates 4,800km across America every year. They rarely fail to amaze.
The Amazing Butterflies exhibition explores these fascinating facts as visitors journey through an interactive maze. Hundreds of butterfly species from America, Africa and Asia fly over your head in the stunning butterfly house. And outside, a specially planted butterfly garden helps you discover what plants attract butterflies.
Butterflies and moths belong to a major group of insects called Lepidoptera. There are about 20,000 species of butterfly worldwide and more than 6 times as many species of moth. There are in fact two kinds of butterflies, the true butterflies and skippers - the differences between the two are in the brain, muscles and external skeleton and can only be seen if they are dissected.
The most reliable way to tell butterflies from moths is to look at their antennae - butterfly antennae have a clubbed tip whereas moth antennae are thread-like or feathered. Although butterflies generally fly during the day, many moths do as well.
With more than 8 million specimens , butterflies and moths make up one third of the Natural History Museum's entomology collections. The Lepidoptera collections, which are unrivalled in their depth and breadth of coverage, include representatives from about 90,000 described species and are studied by scientists and researchers worldwide. The oldest specimens were collected in 1680.
Amazing Butterflies is open 5 April until 17 August 2008