The Lyceum International School Nugegoda is located in a highly urbanized area which once had many home gardens that harbored different habitats for birds, butterflies and plants. These habitats have now declined due to the construction of buildings and highways.A few nature smart children of the Young Biology Explorers Club of Lyceum Nugegoda set their hearts on a new adventure and decided to turn the well-maintained garden of Lyceum into a more butterfly-friendly ecosystem. This will not only attract butterflies but provide a suitable habitat for other small fauna and make it a more balanced ecosystem.
Butterfly gardening is not new to the world or Sri Lanka for that matter, however, it’s not prevalent in the country as yet. Therefore, our motive is to raise awareness of this concept even as we are transforming our school garden into a miniature Eden.It all started with a trip to Dr Van der Poorten's estate in Wariyapola. He is a butterfly expert in Sri Lanka who has turned part of his estate into a butterfly-friendly garden and helped a few establishments such as the Lady Ridgeway Hospital and the National Museum to create butterfly gardens.
Inspired by this idea, we created a garden plan with the help of Ms Narmada Dangampola, Ms Dammika Priyadarshani and Mr Himesh Jayasinghe of the Butterfly Conservation Society of Sri Lanka(BCSSL). Adult butterflies are attracted to nectar-producing flowering plants for feeding and larval food plants for laying eggs. The adults often visit a number of nectar-producing flowers, but are very picky with the larval host plants. To create a plant nursery, we then collected the necessary larval food plants such as Sapsanda, Aguna, Akkapana and adult feeding plants such as Zinnias, Rajapohottu and Balunakuta. Within weeks we observed plants in bloom and butterfly species that were not seen before in our garden.
Around six common butterflies were already present in the garden before introducing the plants, and we have since recorded up to twenty-three species of butterflies. We continue a daily survey and see additions to the list as the garden continues to thrive. Not only does butterfly gardening educate us on plants, agriculture and entomology, it has also beautified the garden with the many blooms and the butterfly visitors. It also brings us great joy and peace, some of these butterflies are now residents since they have their requirements in one place.
It is a great joy to see the awareness created by this project not only among young children but also the adults working in Lyceum, who have become interested in learning how to make their own butterfly garden at home. This is truly sustainable development at Lyceum. We are truly grateful to our Founder, Dr. Mohan Lal Grero, Coordinating Principal, Dr. Kumari Grero, the Principal, Mrs. Dulka Mendis as well as many others who encouraged and supported us in this endeavor.