FLUTTERING in the sunshine, Indian Swallowtails and Lacy Wings have found a new home - in Widnes.

Intrepid council gardeners have turned a disused greenhouse in Victoria Park into a tropical paradise.

Visitors can now explore Halton's rare butterfly house - absolutely free!

"It's been a real learning curve," said gardener Eric Morgan, 18.

"They eat citrus fruits or a mixture of banana and bioyoghurt. It's amazing watching them."

Team leader John Ryan co-ordinated the project. It took staff just nine months to transform Halton College's former horticultural workshop into a hot, humid home for 50 exotic butterflies from all over the world.

Gardener Chris Chadwick, said: "We laid a new floor, prepared compost and fertiliser and put in special plants.

"The butterflies come in pupa stage and then hatch. They only live for a week or a month."

The Mayor and Mayoress of Halton, Cllr Pat Tyrrell and his wife, Jean, opened the butterfly house with excited nursery children. Cllr Tyrrell, said: "This is absolutely marvellous. It will be used as an education facility where children can learn about nature and how to preserve our fragile ecology."

The butterfly house opens every day from 10am-12 noon and 1.30pm-4pm. Call 01928-583900 to arrange party bookings.