When it comes to investigating the wonderful world of butterflies the first thing you’ll need is a butterfly net. When choosing a net, the most important thing is being able to use it! Practice makes perfect when it comes to safely and successfully netting butterflies. Not only do you want to avoid injuring yourself and others around you, but it is very important not to injure the butterfly. Butterfly wings are delicate and cannot heal themselves if they are damaged. Similarly, squashing the butterfly with the edge of your net is equally damaging!
There are two things you can do to avoid hurting butterflies. Firstly, choose a net with a lightweight mesh material which will not damage the wings. All the butterfly nets available at NHBS feature such a lightweight mesh. Secondly, practise your swing on a small object; place a stone on the ground and practice swinging the net over the stone, ensuring the stone ends up in the centre of the net. Once you’re happy with your aim, then you’re ready to go. Ideally your net should be suited to your size. A large net in the hands of a small person may be too difficult to control. The handle length should be long enough for you to net the butterfly without spooking it, but not too long to make the net too difficult to control. Some nets come with adjustable handles, allowing you to customise your net to your preference.
For those wanting to get closer to butterflies, NHBS has two butterfly kits; a Starter and Advanced kit. The Starter kit will allow you to net butterflies, examine them in a magnifying pot and use the beautifully illustrated guide to identify common species. The Advanced Kit features our most popular net, the crushable butterfly net. This folds up to fit in your pocket – a handy feature especially when travelling. The free standing bug cage will allow you to study individuals for greater lengths of time, whilst minimising stress to the butterfly. If you plan to keep the butterflies in the cage for a significant amount of time, ensure you provide some vegetation for sustenance and shelter. A supply of fresh-cut flowers in water or a dish containing a sponge filled with diluted honey solution work well. You can even use fruit juice or fresh- cut melon, although it must be fresh so should be replaced each day.
Remember to release all individuals back into the wild. Many butterfly species are under threat and some are very rare. We can all enjoy butterflies without impacting on wild populations by this approach.