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Visitors are flocking to Portsmouth's natural history museum following the opening of its new tropical butterfly house.

The museum's old butterfly house was demolished by Portsmouth City Council and a new one built, providing a better environment for the butterflies and for visitors.

Since the new one opened on 19 August, a month ago, more than 13,000 visitors have gone through the museum's doors.

That compares to 7,300 visitors in the same period last year, when the butterfly house was closed for rebuilding. In the same period in 2015, when the old butterfly house was open, the figure was 9,000. 

Cllr Linda Symes, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at the council, said: "I'm delighted that the new butterfly house has proved such a draw. 

"As one eight-year-old visitor told us, it's '10 times better' than the old one."

The butterfly house has a range of tropical South American butterflies, hatched on-site from ethically-sourced chrysalises. The species and numbers vary, with about 50 hatching each week. Among the most spectacular are swallowtails, morphos, owl butterflies and longwings.

The enclosure is kept at butterfly-friendly temperature and humidity levels and has a range of plants including orchids, jasmine, banana, lemon trees and lantana. The plants provide shade, as well as food for caterpillars and adult insects.

Opening hours are the same as the rest of the museum, at Cumberland House in Southsea: 10am–5.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday and bank holiday Mondays. Admission is free. From 1 October it closes at 5pm.

As part of the project, the museum gardens will be planted with flowers that attract native species of butterfly.

To find out more about the project, residents can go to the Butterfly House – Cumberland House Museum page on Facebook.