There were no butterflies in five- year-old George Lewys' stomach as he posed with Owl butterflies at the launch of the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at London's Natural History Museum last week.
The annual event includes a kaleidoscope of colourful species ethically sourced from Central and South America, Africa and Asia. None of the more than 500 butterflies featured is taken from the wild.
Each year, hundreds of tropical chrysalises arrive at Heathrow from all over the world, destined for the museum. In the wild, only 10 per cent to 15 per cent of them will make the extraordinary transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, but the success rate at the museum is closer to 85 per cent, said entertainment guide TimeOut.
According to the Natural History Museum website, highlights at the butterfly house include watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, searching for caterpillars hidden in the foliage and seeing butterflies feed on nectar and fruit.
"With the natural world changing fast, Sensational Butterflies gives us the chance to enjoy a bit of a tropical forest here in the city," said Dr Blanca Huertas, senior curator of butterflies at the museum.
The exhibition runs until Sept 17 in South Kensington. When the exhibition ends, all the adult butterflies, caterpillars, pupae and eggs will be rehomed at other British butterfly houses.