More than 5,000 butterflies from around the world have been released into the tropical Butterfly House at Blenheim Palace. Head Gardener, Hilary Wood, helped release dozens of exotic species from South America, Africa, Australia and South Asia as well as a selection of native butterflies in time for the start of the February Half Term holidays. Alongside the live butterflies, staff also delivered around 180 pupae from Africa and the Philippines which have been placed in the Butterfly House's hatchery area where visitors can see them develop within their chrysalises before being released in to the main area.

Garden staff have planted a wide variety of nectar-rich flowers including marguerite, black eyed Susan's, hydrangea and hibiscus. There are also sugar bowls and fruit from which the butterflies can feed.

Rare butterflies released include the blue morpho, a tropical rainforest species found in Central and South America. One of the largest butterfly species in the world, the adults' wingspan is up to 20cms. As its name suggests the butterfly has bright blue wings, edged with black.

Also released was the owl butterfly, which gets its name from the large round eyespots on its wings which resemble those of an owl.

Head of Gardens, Hilary Wood, said: “It's an amazing sight to see the house filled with exotic butterflies once again and we're expecting many more to hatch out over the coming days.”