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November 2, 2002
4:01 PM   Subscribe

Butterfly farming, whether it's to provide live, captive-bred butterflies or framed insects, is a way for people to generate income by nurturing rainforest habitat rather than cutting it down. It's happening in places like Costa Rica, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. But you can also raise butterflies yourself.
posted by mcwetboy (6 comments total)

 
[this is so good!] And you know I clicked on that button before I even clicked on the links. Now this is MetaFilter at it's best--bravo, mcwetboy.
posted by y2karl at 4:11 PM on November 2, 2002


All the things you said are 100% true mcwetboy. I would do it just for the thrill of putting "Butterfly Farmer" on my tax return.

On viewing that in print, doesn't that sound like a name for a ca. 1967 garage band or something?
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on November 2, 2002


someone should do it here. at the moment we can't have the back door open or caterpillars start walking through the house - we counted forty in half a square metre on the patio a couple of days ago. still, they're pretty - weird spikey hair like pine trees upside down and red and yellow dots. do all caterpillars turn into butterflies/moths or are some just like ordinary bugs? maybe this sounds like stupid question - i just assumed they all did, but my partner claims not. maybe she just didn't read the right book.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:50 PM on November 2, 2002


Actually, I used to work in a pet store - in the Fish and Reptile section of all things. And one of the strange things I found out while working there is that silkworms (those big white moth larvae that make the silk you wear) don't exist in nature anymore. In fact, they can't even breed in the wild - they die from bacterial infection. The only way they survive is through humans growing, feeding and breeding them.

Also, when they make silk, you have to pick out the faeces by hand before you weave it. Since then, it's always been a bit hard to be impressed by a dress that used to be smeared with worm shit.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 5:51 PM on November 2, 2002


Pseudo, it may be true that the domesticated silkworm doesn't exist in nature -- no more than the domesticated dairy cow. That doesn't make it a completely separate species from wild varieties, though, and there certainly are wild varieties. It's only been cultivated by humans for perhaps 4000 years.

(The one type of shit I can't get over is the type found in crustaceans like shrimp. I can enjoy the shrimp, but ick.)

And yes, all caterpillars are larval moths and butterflies.

The part about this butterfly project that gives me pause is that not all species are that ubiquitous. Isn't it true that Monarch butterflies return to the same small patch of Mexican rainforest generation after generation? Wouldn't butterfly "farming" run into the same kinds of problems it took to establish separate flocks of whooping cranes? In a sense, the butterflies that may be cultivated this way perhaps don't need the help.
posted by dhartung at 6:19 PM on November 2, 2002


andrew cooke: still, they're pretty - weird spikey hair like pine trees upside down and red and yellow dots.

That sounds like a swarm of Io caterpillars, and trust me, you don't want to be anywhere near them.

You see Aliens, there that thing spurts acid blood onto the guy's face? Yeah, it's like that.
posted by Danelope at 12:49 AM on November 3, 2002


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