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What is Butterfly Farming?

Butterfly farming is the breeding of pupae for sale to local butterfly exhibits or for export to zoos and live exhibitions overseas. Butterfly farms are situated in close proximity to areas of natural forest and provide an alternative, sustainable income to rural communities.

Butterfly farms have been established in many tropical countries worldwide - including the Philippines, Costa Rica, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.


Benefit to the Community

Most types of agriculture in tropical countries require forest clearance and this habitat destruction is a major cause of species extinction. Butterfly farming requires intact forest, thus providing an economic incentive to conserve habitats. As butterflies are bred and reared in enclosures with limited extraction from the wild, farming has a negligible impact on the health of wild populations.

Butterfly farming allows the local community to diversify their income generating activities and to work at home around childcare and domestic duties. It also raises awareness among residents and decision makers of the benefits of conservation.

The Farming Process


In butterfly farming a small netted enclosure is prepared. It is planted with the food plant for the target species of butterfly. A female butterfly is caught and placed in the breeding cage to lay her eggs on the food plant.


The freshly laid eggs are harvested by the farmer and placed in a pest free container, where they will hatch after 10 - 14 days.


Upon hatching the caterpillars, or larvae, will be transferred to their particular food plant in the farmer's plant nursery. The growing larvae are tended by the farmers until they are ready to pupate, approximately 14 days after hatching.


At pupation, larvae attach by their abdomen to a suitable leaf or stick and shed their skin to form the pupae. At this point the pupa are harvested by the farmer to be sold.


To ensure sustainability and unnecessary collection from the wild, the farmer will retain a proportion of pupa to provide the next generation of adults for the breeding cage.


Farming at BBC


At BBC we have provided training for farmers from villages in the Siem Reap Province to farm native species of butterflies. This training also provides our farmers with a vital botanical knowledge of their surrounding area and an awareness of the importance of conserving natural habitats.

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