DOES BUTTERFLY FARMING WORK?
start, butterfly farmers capture a few female
butterflies from the forest and place them in
an enclosure with plants where they can fly and
lay eggs. Each butterfly species uses a different
the eggs hatch, farmers place the small larvae
on host plants that they grow in nurseries. Many
butterfly species prefer seedlings for egg laying,
so the farmers rely on the forest as a constant
source of seeds for their host plant nurseries
(pictured to the right).
farmers in the Amani Butterfly Project retain
some butterfly pupae from each generation so they
seldom need to catch more female butterflies from
the wild after they have begun a captive population.
However, there is still a need to capture male
butterflies from the wild to maintain genetic
diversity in their small captive populations.
BUTTERFLY FARMING SUSTAINABLE?
single female butterfly can lay between 250 and
500 eggs in her lifetime, so very few female butterflies
are required to start captive populations. After
starting a population, there is really only need
to return to the wild occasionally to catch wild
males to insure the captive population has good
the reproductive capacity of butterflies insures
that the very limited extraction of wild butterflies
by the farmers will have no effect on the health
of the wild population. The following generation
will quickly fill any space left in the previous
primary cause of butterfly extinction is habitat
destruction, and by providing an economic incentive
to conserve butterfly habitat, the Amani Butterfly
project is helping to conserve butterflies along
with all the other amazing animal species found
in the East Usambara Mountains.