Keen lepidopterists will revel in this wonderful butterfly farm, tucked just off the M4 in Wiltshire, outside Swindon. If you want a chance to introduce children to these marvellous insects, I can suggest no better place than Butterfly World at Studley Grange. If you look carefully, you might catch sight of some caterpillers. You'll certainly see the mess they have made by eating leaves. The main attraction, however, have to be the butterflies themselves.
Patient visitors will see butterflies landing to rest, or eat and drink
The main butterfly house is filled with hundreds of butterflies, from 30 different species. The place is a whirlwind of colour and activity. Noticeboards help to introduce the centre and give advice as you go round.
All of the butterflies are amazing, but the Blue Morpho stood out for me for its leaf like appearance (with menacing eyes) when folder up, and brilliant colour when open. It's also one of the largest butterflies there.
Another large, impressive and delicate species is the paper kite or rice paper butterfly. Its wings seem almost translucent, pale yellow sections held together by a black frame. The butterflies, and the flowers they land on (over 200 species), are all amazing here though.
The main butterfly house is 600 square feet, big enough to spend a while in (as long as you can stand the heat and humidity!), with benches in the middle where you can sit to watch the butterflies flitter past.
Outside of the main butterfly house is a paddock with a farm. A range of small animals are out there, including guinea pigs and rabbits. There are regular feeding sessions for the different animals, and you can watch the otters frolic and the meercats keep watch.
Meercats are amazing, with a dominant female presiding over the whole pack. At Studley Grange, all the meercats are the offspring of the one queen. They keep the males, but have to send most of the females to new homes in case they challenge her for top spot. They are cute, but ferocious, and even the handler will only go as far as stroking them to play, not picking them up.
There is a second butterfly house, but this is more under construction, with fewer species inside. There are a few specialities, such as terrapins though, hidden in the undergrowth. Finally, a small reptile house introduces you to a few species of snake and other reptiles, but is not the main attraction.
Butterfly World is part of a whole centre including a range of craft shops and children's activities. It would make a great place to spend the day as a family, with plenty for everyone to do. Parties and bespoke visits can be planned if you discuss them with the owners. There is a small shop, where you can even buy free range eggs to take home. There is lots of free parking, and it's very easy to get to, located just off the M4 Westbound.