A Butterfly Fashion Show at the Penang Butterfly Farm

As a young girl, I was the epitome of a tomboy. I’d spend hours in my childhood home’s back yard in the Midwestern United States. I’d hunt for critters large and small, tend to my open air clubhouse, and maintain the ravine’s trails as if I were a park ranger.

Because of this past, it’s no surprise that I so enjoyed our visit to the Penang Butterfly Farm, outside of Georgetown, Malaysia, several months ago.

Seeing the delicate butterflies on parade with their extravagant costumes was a treat: sophisticated black & white dresses, polka dots, neutral ensembles, colorful madness!

The manner in which some of the butterflies systematically laid eggs on leaves reminded me of Braille, or the sugary dot candy I so enjoyed as a little one. Despite the signs warning visitors about treating the insects with care (hands off!), some kids were so fascinated by the life cycle that they plucked at the eggs while Mom & Dad stayed silent.

Another butterfly stood guard near a neighborhood of vacated chrysalises.

My husband turned out to be a butterfly magnet, attracting a dainty, yellow butterfly for the duration of our visit inside the greenhouse-like structure.

After Shawn had bid farewell to his flighty lady we marveled at the pitcher plants – just as a tiny ant was about to fall into the sticky vessel. Despite their carnivorous ways, I loved the plants’ design – twisty, curly-q like limbs and a textured pottery-like appearance!

We then visited the ducks, toads and frogs, iguanas, cockroaches and spiders (the latter two of which I have an irrational fear). As a former owner to a toad named Timmy, I was thrilled to see the croaking creatures, warts and all.

Now, if only I can work on that silly, childhood fear of certain insects that are so plentiful in Southeast Asia and beyond! :)

Getting There: Time certainly flies while at the Penang Butterfly Farm, billed as the “tropical world’s first live butterfly & insect sanctuary.” Be sure you arrive a few hours before closing time, as we found ourselves with much to see in the exhibit areas and not enough time. We traveled to the sanctuary by local bus and then taxi (a short ride) from our guesthouse in Georgetown.

Have you been to the Penang Butterfly Farm – what did you think? What favorites from your childhood would you like to revisit? 

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

18 thoughts on “A Butterfly Fashion Show at the Penang Butterfly Farm

    1. You must have been to Penang, Anita? …I’ve been wanting to share the beautiful butterflies for quite some time. We also visited the Tropical Fruit farm while in the area. Highly recommended if you haven’t already visited! Any travel plans coming up? :)

  1. Lovely. I have never been to Penang, but I have been to butterfly farms elsewhere. I really like your idea of it being a fashion show. So right! I also love the pictures of the eggs.
    Regarding your fear of certain insects, may I recommend from personal experience taking up macro bug photography? Worked for me with everything except spiders. I am afraid I can’t help you there!

    1. Rachael, thanks for all your kind comments!

      I really like this idea of trying macro bug photography as a way to overcome my fear of insects! When I reviewed your blog, I caught a glimpse of some of the equipment you use for your macro shots – but do you have any additional recommendations? As of now, all I have is my Nikon D5100 and an 18-200 mm lens. Thanks in advance for your pointers! :)

  2. These photographs are beautiful, I always appreciate nature and I have to say that you certainly got nature’s most beautiful creations perfect :)

  3. Just started blogging my volunteering adventures in Kolkata, India. Came across your blog et al. WOW! I am truly amazed at everything that is contained within it! It will take me days to go through this, as I wish to do!
    Thanks for sharing this with the world, please keep on doing all that you obviously love to do.

    1. Kolkatakev, I’m flattered — thank you so very much for your kind comments. Yes, you’re right in that I very much enjoy storytelling. :)

      For how long will you be in Kolkata? We’d hoped very much to make it there last month while in India but unfortunately only had time to explore a bit of the south. What type of volunteer work are you doing there?

      1. in Kolkata for another 4 months initially, with VSO, a UK based NGO working in development, with a rights based approach to development. Enjoying very much my time, experience and learning.
        Thanks for staying in touch, always good to support each other, anyone looking to visit is welcome. Have space in south of the city.

      2. Well, if we should make it to Kolkata in the coming months, I’ll definitely keep you posted. It would be really rewarding to see the work your organization does, first-hand.

      1. Thanks again. Hopefully, as it progresses I can inform people of the hard realities here, and elsewhere in Asia. Was posted in Bangladesh for 15 months prior to Kolkata, now that ‘was’ an eye-opener!

      2. Kolkatakev,
        A friend of mine was formerly in Bangladesh as well and I heard wonderful stories from her… It sounds as though you really make it to some off-the-beaten-path locales. It’s wonderful that you can combine meaningful work with exploration in some neat spots.
        Enjoy the weekend!

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