How can you farm or ranch butterflies? Planting, trying to round them up like cattle can be tricky. Butterfly farming could hold the key to survival of many endangered species around the world.
In the wild, butterflies may expect to enjoy a 2 percent survival rate between ova and adult. The 98% that perish along the way may be devoured by prey, succumb to virus or diseases or not be able subsist if the climatic conditions (drought, wind, temperatures changes, fires) are not right. A successful farmer can increase the survival rate of these delicate, spectacular creatures from 2% to as high as 90 percent.
Saving endangered butterflies – maybe you could help?
FIRST METHOD -Butterfly Farming
- Decide the section land/garden to raise the butterflies on.
- Find someone to train you and your friends in how to manage of a variety of butterfly species. Farms may take various shapes, and farming is done in different ways, but all
- Need a protected enclosure to protect the stock with adequate climate control
- Wild stock must be introduced periodically to avoid inbreeding.
SECOND WAY – Butterfly Open-Ranching on the Insect’s Natural Habitat
- Native wild free ranging adults can be used.
- The butterflies will feed and lay eggs in gardens planted on the edge of existing forest.
- This method is preferable for several reasons:
- It provides constant genetic variability
- The butterflies’ native forest habitat is preserved.
- Local ranchers/citizens become protectors of the forest as the source of their livelihoods.
There are challenges to raising these delicate endangered exotic butterflies from an assortment of diseases, viruses and starvation. When rearing just a few or thousands of larvae, cleanliness and attention to details are key to a successful butterfly breeding operation.
From egg through the fifth instar the young caterpillars continue to eat and grow. Then they will crawl up on a branch, a leaf or the top of their cage to spin their cocoon (pupate).
The pupae will be carefully removed daily by the farmer to be sure of the age of the pupae. It is in this stage butterflies may be sold and shipped to buyers. The pupa should not be more than three day´s old before it is shipped.
Maybe you could become a butterfly rancher in your area?
Before raising the butterflies, make certain if your are using wild butterflies that you have the proper plants growing in abundance that the caterpillars normally feed on. Ask your local university entomology department or contact the Xerces Society or Nature’s Crusaders for assistance before getting your butterflies.