Friday, 23 September 2011

World’s Largest Moth hatches at Butterfly House

The Tropical Butterfly House at Berkeley Castle closes on Thursday (29th September 2011) for the winter, but there has been excitement there this week as an Atlas moths has hatched from a chrysalis that has been sitting dormant in the nursery since April.

The chrysalis are bought in at the beginning of the season, and none of the first batch had hatched, apart from this one that appeared last Sunday (18th September).
Staff knew that the butterflies were alive, but no matter what efforts they made they would not emerge. A subsequent delivery of chrysalis resulted in five Atlas Moths hatching in the Summer, but none of the first batch . . . . until last weekend!

Here’s the science bit . . . . .

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered to be the largest moth in the world and is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, and common across the Malay archipelago.

Their total wing surface area can be upwards of 400 square cm or 65 square inches). Their wingspans are also amongst the largest, from 25-30 cm (10-12 inches).

Atlas moths are said to be named after their map-like wing patterns and the extension of the forewing, bears a resemblance to a snake's head.

Atlas moths are predominantly tawny to maroon in colour with roughly triangular, diaphanous "eyes" on both forewing and hindwing, bordered in black. Their bodies are hairy and disproportionately small compared to their wings.

Neither sex possess fully-formed mouthparts and therefore do not feed; throughout their 1-2 week adult life they survive entirely on larval fat reserves that they build up while they are caterpillars. Atlas moths are unsteady fliers and the do not stray far. Their sole purpose of life as a moth is to breed.

The Butterfly House is open this Sunday (25th September) and then Thursday (29th September, so if you want to catch a glimpse of the largest moth in the world, get down to Berkeley now this week.

** E N D **

Notes 1:
Photographs are available as high-resolution images.

More Information about the Butterfly House:
In the region of 42 exotic species, from as far afield as Japan and Indonesia, fly freely in a tranquil tropical oasis and it is a wonderful opportunity to see rare species in beautiful surroundings. Species include the South American Blue Morpho, Glasswing, Hecales Longwing, Small Postman and the Owl Butterfly; as well as the Clipper, Mormons, Swallowtails, Lacewing & Tree Nymph all from South Asia.

Visitors can observe their life cycle up-close through the display of caterpillars and chrysalises.

At the start of the season pupae of the different species is brought in, and butterflies are hatched in the nursery. Once hatched, they are able to breed freely in the idyllic surroundings, which are created by the tropical temperature and their preferred food sources.

Speciality plants are grown on site, some from all over the world.

The team spend many hours every day ensuring that the correct temperature and environment is maintained to ensure the optimum flying, feeding and breeding conditions for the butterflies.

Insects and pests damaging to the plants are kept at bay by the resident Chinese painted quail and diamond doves, who patrol the Butterfly House, organically controlling the bugs.

As the season progresses the numbers of butterflies soars – creating the most spectacular visual experience, as the Butterfly House teems with hundreds of tropical butterflies.

The Butterfly House shop is also open to non-visitors on open days and stocks many butterfly themed collectibles, and children’s gifts, as well ice-creams and various plants.

Note 2.
The Butterfly House closes on Thursday 29th September, but Berkeley Castle is open on selected days until 30th October. Please check our website for exact opening times. The Global Ticket provides access to the Castle, Ground and the Butterfly House and costs £9.50 for Adults, £7.50 concessions & £5.00 for children (5-16years, under 5’s – free). Family tickets are available (2 adults & 2 children) for £24.00.

Note 3:
Berkeley Castle is a beautiful and historic Castle, begun in 1117 and still remains the home of the Berkeley family. The Castle was the scene of the brutal murder of Edward II in 1327 and besieged by Cromwell’s troops in 1645. The Castle is steeped in history but 27 generations of Berkeley’s have gradually transformed a Norman fortress into the lovely home it is today.
The state apartments contain magnificent collections of furniture, rare paintings by primarily English and Dutch masters, and tapestries. Some of the world famous Berkeley silver is on display and many other rooms including the Great Hall are available to view.
The Castle is surrounded by lovely terraced Elizabethan Gardens with a lily pond, Elizabeth I’s bowling green, sweeping lawns and a walled garden containing the Butterfly House.

For general information contact the Castle Office on 01453 810332, or e-mail Browse the website

For more information:
Vicky Parr, General Manager
T: 01453 810332

Friday, 16 September 2011

Film Premiere at Berkeley Castle

Uncertain Proof Premières at Berkeley Castle

There may not be a red carpet but on the 21st September, the anniversary of the death of Edward II by means of a red hot poker at Berkeley Castle, a new film will offer the possibility of a different story and the dream of the producers of Uncertain Proof will come to fruition.

The film, 4 years in the making, has been created by a new Community Interest Company, Bristol Films. The film was shot at locations in and around Bristol and was produced for the staggeringly low sum of £1,700. One reason for this is that actors, crew and location owners have donated their talents, equipment, land and buildings to help make the film.

The film is a semi-factual historical drama based on a letter written by an Italian priest, Manuel de Fieschi, advising the then king that Edward II escaped and that he had in fact met him in Italy. The film tells the story of how Fieschi, having scoured Europe, arrives in Italy to face storms and plague and enlists the help of an elderly priest, a cynical servant and a strange reclusive man to help him find a hermit.

The première will also be a celebration of the life of leading local actor, director and playwright A. G. Ford who, having written the screenplay and played a leading role in the film, died on 2nd September 2011 and was unable to see the completion of one of his greatest works.

A DVD of Uncertain Proof will also be released on 21st September 2011.

Picture: Genovel Andrei Alexa as Manuel de Fieschi

For further information please see the Electronic Press Kit attached – or contact




Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, GL13 9BQ


Tel: 01453 810303

Opening times and directions

©2017 Berkeley Castle

Website design by Brighterside