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Asia's largest butterfly collection opens in Sichuan

Chengdu's Insect Museum of West China at Qingcheng Mountain's Tourist Centre is set to open tomorrow, coinciding with China's Children's Day, reported Sichuan Online and West China City Daily.

The museum boasts a valuable collection of over 700 species of butterflies, more than the number of species present in Europe and China combined, and thrice of that of Japan.

It touts itself to have the largest collection of butterflies in Asia, even 300 more species than Taiwan, which is known as the Butterfly Kingdom sometimes.

The museum holds 95% of the known species of butterflies in China, in addition to its collection of precious species worldwide and nearly 20,000 specimens of exotic insects, according to its chief curator, Zhao Li.

China's only jewel beetle specimen
Besides native species, the museum has specimens from more than 40 countries from six continents and is proud to exhibit the sole jewel beetle specimen in China.

Zeng Jing from China's National Geographic wrote that American scientists captured the jewel beetle from the rainforest on a helicopter. Zhao explained that the jewel beetle originated from the depths of the Costa Rican jungle.

Butterfly Tree
The museum also features a Butterfly Tree made from thousands of specimens, modeled after the Yunnan Butterfly Spring. The exhibit which is more than two metres tall, will be at the museum's entrance.

The butterfly tree is helmed by DNA double helix models made from butterfly specimens, featuring the more aesthetically appealing species, to represent the most basic form of life.

'Tree of life' from 'Avatar'
On the second floor, visitors can feast their eyes on the huge tree models, with light-emitting leaves, aiming to portray the magical and dream-like effect as seen in the 3D film Avatar.

Getting there
From the Qingcheng Mountain Train Station, get to the Tourist Centre located outside Qingcheng Mountain's main entrance, next to the Howard Johnson Hotel. It is about a 10-20 minute-walk away from the Train Station. The museum is one of the four sections of the Tourist Centre.

See here for directions to Qingcheng Mountain from Chengdu.

Entrance is free on the opening day but it is unclear if the museum will be charging for tickets in the near future. Visitors can call 87435382 for enquiries.