Tokyo ward builds greenhouse to raise butterflies for 2020 Olympics

Tokyo ward builds greenhouse to raise butterflies for 2020 Olympics
Hiroshi Ujiie holds a common bluebottle larva on a leaf at Tokyo Rosai Hospital in Ota Ward, Tokyo, in late August.
PHOTO: The Japan News/ANN

Tokyo's Ota Ward has built a greenhouse in the premises of a hospital to study the life of swallowtail butterflies. The endeavour to make the ward a town of fluttering butterflies is part of its endeavour to offer "omotenashi" Japanese traditional hospitality to foreign tourists for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The ward plans to determine first whether the butterflies are able to lay eggs inside the greenhouse, and intends to move the eggs to the ward's coastal areas later to increase the butterfly population throughout the ward.

The ward has paid particular attention to camphor trees, which are designated as the official trees of the ward, as the common bluebottle, a species of swallowtail butterfly, has a habit of laying its eggs on the trees in the ward. The common bluebottle, with beautiful blue stripes on their wings, are loved by Europeans and Americans. The ward plans to increase their population around Haneda Airport and other coastal areas by 2020.

To that end, a greenhouse 1.5 meters wide, 2.3 meters deep and 2 meters tall was built on Aug. 22 in the courtyard of Tokyo Rosai Hospital in the ward, with the main purpose of collecting eggs of the common bluebottle.

About three years ago, the hospital began creating a "butterfly garden" in its courtyard by placing potted flowers and plants there to attract butterflies. Learning that the courtyard, with an increasing number of butterflies, had become a popular place for patients to relax, the ward asked the hospital for co-operation on this project.

However, as butterflies require a spacious area to lay their eggs indoors, it is unclear whether they will lay eggs in a greenhouse, despite its size. The ward intends to release butterflies into the greenhouse to observe whether they will lay eggs.

Hiroshi Ujiie, vice director of the hospital and a butterfly enthusiast himself, is in charge of observing this activity, although he must do so between medical examinations. But he said: "I think a beautiful ward with many flowers and butterflies will naturally improve public security in the ward. I would like to co-operate with the project as much as I can.

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