WHERE BUT­TER­FLIES ABOUND – BED­FORD

BED­FORD IN THE EASTERN CAPE IS HOME TO SOME OF THE COUN­TRY’S OLD­EST ROSES, AS WELL AS THE LARGEST PRI­VATE BUT­TER­FLY COL­LEC­TION IN SOUTH AFRICA.

In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE -

BUT­TER­FLIES & PEA­COCKS

“There’s no gar­den here,” laughs Anne Pringle. “The pea­cocks dig it all up!”That much is true of Huntly Glen, found 40 km along a coun­try road from Bed­ford, right in the mid­dle of the Eastern Cape. This ranch and self-cater­ing farm­house in 1820 Set­tlers coun­try does, how­ever, have cows, an­gora goats, 40 pea­cocks, 16,000 but­ter­flies and plenty of open space.

“I’ve been col­lect­ing but­ter­flies for 60 years, as far back as I can re­mem­ber,” jokes her 63-year-old hus­band, Ernest Pringle, who owns the largest col­lec­tion of South African but­ter­fly species in the coun­try – and, most likely, in the world. He is also a vol­un­tary cu­ra­tor of the Lepi­doptera Ex­hibit at the Al­bany Mu­seum in Gra­ham­stown. “The Rhodes Depart­ment of En­to­mol­ogy keep me as a pet,” he laughs. “I use their equip­ment and they keep me close if they need any help. It’s a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship.”

You can see close to 800 lo­cal but­ter­fly species – he’s only miss­ing 12 – at his pri­vate ex­hibit dur­ing the four-day Bed­ford Gar­den Fes­ti­val (20th to 23rd Oc­to­ber). Ernest will delve into the world of th­ese winged won­ders with talks about ev­ery­thing from their par­a­sitic as­so­ci­a­tion with ants to their de­fence mech­a­nisms, and how Charles Dar­win and Alfred Rus­sel Wal­lace dis­cov­ered mimicry through but­ter­flies. He’ll even tell you how he re­dis­cov­ered the Bren­ton Blue but­ter­fly on the western Knysna Head af­ter it had seem­ingly dis­ap­peared for decades. All dona­tions go to the con­ser­va­tion of this rare and crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species.

He says we can help but­ter­flies by clear­ing our gar­dens of alien species, grow­ing plants and flow­ers in­dige­nous to our geo­graph­i­cal re­gions, and putting up bird baths. “Most but­ter­flies do not feed dur­ing the adult stage.They mostly drink wa­ter as well as nec­tar from the flow­ers, which is a high en­ergy source,” he says.

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