Changi Airport Butterfly Garden

While most major international airports offer free Wi-Fi, expensive duty-free shopping, and restaurants, Singapore’s Changi Airport offers an escape from the stresses of international transit with a tasteful Butterfly Garden. A refreshing green space, the garden has an impressive collection of about 1000 butterflies and moths belonging to 47 different species that are found in tropical environments.

If you have enough time transiting between flights, the Butterfly Garden (it really should be called the lepidopteran garden as it has both butterflies and moths which are part of the taxonomic grouping Lepidoptera [1]) is located on the third floor of terminal 3. It is hidden behind the Singapore Food street food court and beside the Movie theatre. It doesn’t stand out except for the sign marking the entrance and couple of infographics about the garden. However, as you wander through the glass doors and leave the air conditioning, the humidity increases, the greenery flourishes and the butterflies and moths are out in all their glory.

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The entrance to the elusive Butterfly Garden.

Butterflies and moths are beautiful but extremely delicate insects (Lepidoptera literally translates to “scaly winged” [1]- so don’t touch!). Living in an enclosed open-air environment has its risks, so to reduce mortality, the garden was designed to have a curved-shape roof made from high quality stainless steel mesh and unique glass windows. This means that the butterflies stay inside while there is a movement of natural air and wind between the garden and the outside [2].

Beyond its diligent design, the Butterfly garden puts a large emphasis on the importance of butterflies. Despite them being delicate, butterflies are badass because they are pollinators. They are lumped in same category with bees, flies, beetles, bats and birds. Pollinators are responsible for 75% of the world’s flowering plants [3]. When Flowering plants are pollinated, they become fruit. Humans eat fruit. A lot of fruit. Basically, we would be in a lot of trouble without butterflies, moths and their pollinator friends.

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The Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas). Fun fact!: It is the largest moth in the world.

Another very important aspect of the butterfly garden is that it promotes conservation of natural areas that butterflies inhabit through information panels. Different species of butterflies have varying requirements for food and protection so that they can survive in their respective habitats. Their habitats include grasslands, mountain ranges, rainforests, wetlands and even urban cityscapes such as parks [4&5]. Therefore, conserving butterflies means conserving butterfly’s habitats.

 

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Peacock Pansy (Junonio almana javana)

Singapore’s Changi Airport not only provides a green space, but also educates the public and raises awareness of the importance of pollinators and their habitats. Other airports are also incorporating nature with public space. South Korea’s Incheon Airport in Seoul is planning two have two main gardens that showcase South Korean art and flora. JFK in New York has a 375-square meter rooftop garden and a potato garden [6]. If this trend continues to gain popularity, airports can be more than an exhausting place to purchase overpriced duty-free items. Instead, they could be places to relax in a sustainable green space and enjoy the little things. Like butterflies.

References

[1] Culin, J. (2017). Lepidopteran. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/animal/lepidopteran

[2] Entopia Consulting. (2016). Changi Butterfly Garden. Retrieved from: http://entopia.com/featured-project-changi-butterfly-garden/

[3] Food and Agricultural Organizatio of the United Nations. (2016). Pollinators vital to our food supply under threat. Retrieved from: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/384726/icode/

[4] ButterflyConservation.Org. (2017). Habitat Management. Retrieved from: http://butterfly-conservation.org/121/habitat-management.html

[5] New, T. R., Pyle, R. M., Thomas, J. A., Thomas, C. D., & Hammond, P. C. (1995). Butterfly conservation management. Annual review of entomology, 40(1), 57-83.

[6] Marcllin, F. (2016). Flying in tune with nature: the cleanest, greenest airport spaces. Retrieved from: http://www.airport-technology.com/features/featurethe-airport-worlds-cleanest-greenest-spaces-4809435/

*** If any information is ever incorrect or needs to be updated, please let me know! Science is about presenting the most up to date and correct information! ***

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