By Martin Feather
Every year we import many thousands of butterfly pupae which emerge in our laboratory prior to release into Wings of the Tropics, but how many of our guests know where all these beautiful creatures come from, and how they are produced? Our suppliers are farmers, butterfly farmers!
From Ecuador, Suriname, Costa Rica and El Salvador we receive packages on a weekly or monthly basis, each containing from 350 to 500 ‘butterflies in waiting’—pupae from these farmers. The photos below show some of the infrastructure that all of our selected suppliers have created, and maintain, to allow continuous production of the many thousands of pupae required by all the butterfly exhibits worldwide each week.
Heliconius Butterfly Works is located in the beautiful Mindo valley, Ecuador, and specializes in breeding a large variety of Heliconius (longwing) butterflies; the photo shows some of the many thousands of passion vines (Passiflora spp.) needed for their operation.
Our Costa Rican supplier, Mariposario del Bosque Nuevo, is located in the northern Guanacaste region of the country and besides farming butterflies the owners, manager and staff are dedicated to preserving wildlife and expanding their property which already serves as a small but successful nature reserve. The goal, funded by profits from butterfly farming, is to slowly acquire adjacent untouched forest and create a 10,000 hectare nature reserve.
Almost all of our fabulous Blue Morpho butterflies come from this farm. The eggs are collected daily by staff from special breeding cages, and once the caterpillars hatch and are large enough they are put onto branches of their food-plant and encased in netting sleeves to protect them from predators and parasites (there are several acres of food-plants growing around the farm). The mature larvae are all collected and pupate together inside the butterfly laboratory. With production in full swing El Bosque Nuevo can export over 1000 Morpho pupae weekly.
Our second Central American supplier is located deep in the tropical forest of northwestern El Salvador adjacent to Parque Nacional El Impossible. Owned and run by Francisco Serrano, Bioproductores de El Salvador supplies our stunning white Morpho butterflies.