The butterfly museum founded by Frederic Smetacek ,” The butterfly man of India” is situated at Jones Estate (Sattal, place 5 km from bhimtal), which has over 2500 butterfly and moth specimens and 1100 species of insects that are found in this region.
The sprawling Jones Estate in Bhimtal, locally known as June Estate, is the catchment area of the Bhimtal lake, the largest lake in the region, besides being home to a dazzling variety of butterflies and birds. It is also home to the Smetacek family, which has been living here for almost six decades and is known for its museum of butterflies and moths, arguably the largest private collection of its kind in the country.
The story of the Smetaceks (pronounced Smet-a-check) began when Frederick Smetacek Sr, a German of Czech origin, arrived in India sometime in the 1940s. He made a considerable fortune supplying goods to the Allied forces during the World War and later settled in Bhimtal, where he pursued his passion of collecting butterflies. The Smetacek family’s collection has more than 10,000 species, collected by Frederick Sr as well as his children, especially his sons Peter and Frederick Jr.
I Frederick Jr or Fredy, was a passionate butterfly lover & researcher, many label him the ‘Butterfly man of India.’ He was also quite a colourful personality, known locally as much for his straight talk as his concern for the environment, often taking on the local building mafia head-on.Fredy died in February in year 2012, after a long illness brought on by a surgery that went wrong.
During his lifetime, he built up a collection that had a number of rare specimens. Some examples include the Attacus Atlas, commonly known as the Atlas moth and considered the largest moth in the world in terms of total wing surface area. Then, there is the Actias Luna or the Luna Moth, which is a distinctive lime-green creature. The most prized specimen, though, is probably a Parnassius, commonly known as the Snow Apollo, which is a high altitude moth found in the Pindari glacier.