Commercial butterfly breeding or captive butterfly breeding is the practice of breeding butterflies and moths in controlled environments with the purpose of supplying the stock to research facilities, universities, zoos, insectariums, elementary and secondary schools, butterfly exhibits, conservation organizations, nature centers, individuals and other commercial facilities. Some butterfly and moth breeders limit their market to wholesale customers while other breeders supply smaller volumes of stock as a retail activity. Some small scale and larger scale breeders limit their businesses to provision of the butterflies or moths for schools. Others provide butterflies in commemorative events such as funerals, hospice activities, bar mitzvahs, 911 memorial events and weddings. The process often includes the release of individual organisms to the wild where the release occurs in the natural range of the butterfly. Captive butterfly breeding programs do not affect biodiversity.
- 1 History
- 2 Related applications
- 3 Disease, parasite and predator controls
- 4 Protocols
- 5 Economic development in Third World countries
- 6 Education and conservation
- 7 Genetics
- 8 Host plants
- 9 Regulatory oversight
- 10 Controversy
- 11 US and Canadian breeders
- 12 External links
- 13 References
5000 BC to 1976
Commercial breeding of Lepidoptera has a long history. The Bombyx mori (Latin: "silkworm of the mulberry tree"), The practice of breeding silkworms for the production of raw silk, also known as Sericulture, has been underway for at least 5,000 years in China. It is dependent on humans for its reproduction and does not occur naturally in the wild. The silkworm was domesticated from the wild silkmoth Bombyx mandarina which ranges from northern India to northern China, Korea, Japan, and the far eastern regions of Russia. The domesticated silkworm derives from Chinese rather than Japanese or Korean stock. Silkworms were unlikely to have been domestically bred before the Neolithic age; before then, the tools required to facilitate the manufacturing of larger quantities of silk thread had not been developed. The domesticated B. mori and the wild B. mandarina can still breed and sometimes produce hybrids.:342...
Serious commercial breeding activity began in 1977. At this time the tomato industry on Guernsey had become bankrupt and unused greenhouses remained. An entrepreneur purchased vacant greenhouse and filled it with tropical plants – creating a tropical jungle environment. At this point, butterflies from Asia were acquired. The newly constructed enclosure contained a waterfall, and small stream. The structure was publicized and opened to the public. In 1977, there was no access to commercial butterfly breeders in tropical regions. Stock was obtained from amateur lepidopterists who periodically provided few dozen butterflies to the exhibit. The Guernsey butterfly exhibit was a commercial success. Butterfly exhibits rapidly gained a positive reputation with investors. They were seen as novel commercial activities generating a return in a short of time.
The butterfly exhibit industry continued to expand in 1980 and until 1988 in the United Kingdom. New exhibits were started every year. Some were separate exhibits while others were part of wealthy estates. Other commercial exhibits were added onto already existing businesses such as garden supply centers.
The new butterfly exhibits had various results. Some were considered 'shoddy'. One example of this was one owner who pinned his dead butterflies onto flowers to cut costs. Other exhibitors sought to improve their exhibits to increase the public's enjoyment. These developed long-term profits goals. Some exhibitors began minimal investment attempting to maximize their short-term gains. Commercial butterfly breeding and exhibitions have developed over the past 20 years essentially putting unprofitable exhibitors out of business.
European butterfly exhibits are now supplied by regulated butterfly brokers. In 1980 one full-time professional distributor supplied live butterfly stock - Entomological Livestock Supplies. Other suppliers have formed since then. Brokers import butterfly pupae from around the world. Leading producers of butterfly pupae are the United States, El Salvador, Surinam, Ecuador Malaysia, Kenya, Philippines, Thailand, and Costa Rica.
Butterfly exhibits and commercial/captive breeding have flourished in Canada and the United States. North America's largest butterfly exhibit is The Niagara Parks Commission's (Ontario) Butterfly Garden. It opened in 1996 and is a $15 million facility. One weekend in January it admitted 20,000 visitors.
Commercial and captive breeders often begin their operations after raising butterflies as a hobby and then expanding this into a business. Many butterfly breeders consider themselves to be hobbyists and limit their breeding to providing butterflies to their friends, families and schools at no cost.
Captive breeding of other species has been successful. The Pere David's deer was successfully saved through captive breeding programs. After almost being hunted to extinction in China. They demonstrated success with a wide variety of species in the 1970s ranging from birds (e.g. pink pigeon), mammals (e.g. pygmy hog), reptiles (e.g. Round Island boa) and amphibians (e.g. poison arrow frogs). Their efforts were successful in reintroducing the Arabian oryx (under the auspices of the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society), in 1963. The Przewalski's horse has recently been re-introduced to the wild in Mongolia.In 2010, the Oregon Zoo found that Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit pairings based on familiarity and preferences resulted in a significant increase in breeding success.
Captive bred stock is purchased by researchers.
Captive butterfly breeding has been used to replenish extirpated populations of butterflies. One example of this was the commercial breeding of the Florida keys species butterfly by butterfly breeder Fort Lauderdale.
Disease, parasite and predator controls
Microsporidium, a fungus, kills 100% of larvae hatched from infected eggs . This disease is transferred from larvae to adults. The bacterium originates from the host plant. Infected larvae initially show no visible symptoms. This infection is detected with a microscope.
Commercial and hobbyist breeders are often members of the IBBA and the AFB.
Captive breeders employ cost-effective and sustainable methods of plant propagation needed to provide larval food for their stock. Green houses, hydroponics, drip irrigation, and organic-based methods are used to control disease costs and create high plant yields. Pesticides are not used in the breeding of stock.
Captive breeders reduce the exposure of laboratory bred stock to naturally curing predators, parasites and diseases that occur in wild stock by rearing butterflies in enclosed environments.
The butterfly and moth larvae are typically raised in containers in various densities dependent upon the predetermined protocols. Some butterfly larvae best raised in lower densities and others at higher densities. Breeding operations can include environmental controls such as humidity and temperature.
Some commercial breeders limit their shipments to wholesale customers like butterfly houses, conservatories and exhibits. Other breeders shipped directly to customers who use the butterflies in various venues.
Breeders ship stock in all ages of the life cycle of the butterfly to elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States; subject to the shipping regulations of the USDA.
Event organizers sometimes purchase butterflies from breeders to be released during events. These events include:
- 911 Memorial services
- Cancer survivor Memorial services
- Hospice -related Memorial services.
- Funeral services
- religious ceremonies
- one day educational seminars
A breeder typically begins operation by obtaining breeding stock from a reputable supplier of healthy stock screened for disease. Most breeders in southern states are able to 'overwinter' their stock enabling them to provide butterflies to customers year-round if the ambient temperatures are supportive of flight and the survival of the butterfly. Many breeders in northern latitudes that experience cold winters or repeated frosts shut down for the winter months.
Larger breeding operations require the hiring of employees who are then trained to grow larval food maintain the grounds, sustain controlled environments, make shipments, advise receiving organizations on the proper care of butterfly stock.
Economic development in Third World countries
Butterfly farming has been economically successful in increasing economic opportunities for local people in Ecuador and Costa Rica. Butterfly farming also promotes conservation activities and education.
Commercial breeding in developing countries is readily understood by the people who do it. It is environmentally non-destructive, uses available raw materials, economically and environmentally sustainable. It is considered to be ethical in that it is not dehumanizing or degrading to the people who do it.
In contrast to the clear cutting of natural habitats, butterfly farming is dependent upon native plant species. A butterfly farmer keeps areas of land intact with naturally occurring vegetation. Commercial butterfly farmers plant native plants on the property, providing food sources for the caterpillars.
Commercial butterfly breeders generate employment and support the rural economy. It inhibits the rural to urban movement patterns.
Education and conservation
Commercial breeders provide stock to be used in education programs in elementary and secondary schools. Commercially bred monarchs migrate to overwintering sites in Mexico expanding the knowledge of migratory behavior.
Some are concerned with possible negative effects.
Breeders grow host plants for the larva that they are raising. Many of them have green houses that are enclosed to protect the food plants from being contaminated by parasites, predators and adverse environmental conditions. The plants raised in these green houses grow faster and stronger due to the methods employed by the breeders.
Different host plants are needed by different species of butterflies. Some larva are limited to one type of host plant well other larva are referred to as generalists and are able to use a variety of host plants.
The US Department of Agriculture regulates the interstate shipment of captive/commercially bred butterflies. The USDA allows shipments to areas and regions within the natural range of the butterfly. Some states have their own regulations to govern the shipping and release of commercially bred stock. Canada also regulates the shipment of butterflies. Butterfly releases and breeding done within the boundaries of a state are not regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Butterflies, moths, and almost all other species of animals and plants are not allowed to be removed from federal land and are not considered a source of butterflies for release. Fines are applied to those who collect from federal lands.
Only six species of butterflies can be shipped across state lines in the United States. Butterfly houses, conservatories, and exhibits can receive butterflies and moths from areas outside of the United States. These shipments are regulated and do not allow the release of butterflies from these controlled environments. The shipments are also regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. The same operations do receive shipments of native butterflies from breeders within the United States who have the proper permits.
Commercial and captive breeding releases of painted lady and monarch butterflies have been criticized for their potential of reducing biodiversity in wild populations. The homogeneity of the genome of the monarch has been determined and has been found to be 'unprecedented' across its worldwide range.
Petition to have the monarch butterfly designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act
Adoption of the designation to have the monarch butterfly as threatened would prohibit the release of commercially bred monarchs, subject to substantial fines and penalties.
Disease transmission and the development of more virulent strains of parasites
Butterfly releases have been criticized for having the potential of spreading disease and promoting the proliferation of more virulent strains of parasites.
Parasitic strains of Ophryocystis elektroscirrha have been found to be the most virulent in the western population of the monarch butterfly. When monarchs in the eastern population were inoculated with the parasite found in the western population, the eastern monarchs were found to be more resistant to the parasite than even the western monarchs. When monarchs from the western population were inoculated with the parasite found on eastern monarchs, no significant differences were observed. The degree of variation can be attributed to different variations in host and parasitic conditions.
Butterfly releases have been criticized because the monarch butterfly population is being overutilized.
Breeders often use wild monarch butterflies to initiate their seasonal breeding, the released butterflies add to the population of wild monarchs.
US and Canadian breeders
Some breeders are able to generate substantial income. Large operations require large, paid, and trained staff. Market-driven competition determines the price of butterflies supplied to customers and wholesalers.
- Wings of Mackinac
- Butterfly Conservatory at Niagara Park
- The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
- The Butterfly Conservatory
- Joseph L. Popp Jr. Butterfly Conservatory
- Butterfly Boutique manuals by Nigel Venters on how to raise butterflies
- Butterfly rearing educational publications
- E. J. W. Barber (1992). Prehistoric Textiles: the Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. Princeton University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-691-00224-8.
- "Why Butterfly Farming? - The Scientific Realm". Costa Rica Entomological Supply (CRES). Retrieved 2014-11-30.
- K. P. Arunkumar; Muralidhar Metta; J. Nagaraju (2006). "Molecular phylogeny of silkmoths reveals the origin of domesticated silkmoth, Bombyx mori from Chinese Bombyx mandarina and paternal inheritance of Antheraea proylei mitochondrial DNA". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 40 (2): 419–427. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.02.023. PMID 16644243.
- Hideaki Maekawa; Naoko Takada; Kenichi Mikitani; Teru Ogura; Naoko Miyajima; Haruhiko Fujiwara; Masahiko Kobayashi; Osamu Ninaki (1988). "Nucleolus organizers in the wild silkworm Bombyx mandarina and the domesticated silkworm B. mori". Chromosoma. 96 (4): 263–269. doi:10.1007/BF00286912.
- Brian K. Hall (2010). Evolution: Principles and Processes. Topics in Biology. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 400. ISBN 978-0-7637-6039-7.
- Bull, Roger (2010-09-10). "A butterfly hobby takes wing and brings in $300, 000 a year". The Florida Times Union. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
- "Love is in the hare: Zoo explores pygmy rabbit 'love connection'". The Oregon Zoo. KVAL. February 14, 2013.
- April Dinwiddiea; Ryan Nullb; Maria Pizzanob; Hwei Ee Tan; Alexis Leigh Kru; Nipam H. Patelb (15 August 2014). "Dynamics of F-actin prefigure the structure of butterfly wing scales". Developmental Biology. 392 (2): 404–418. doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.06.005. PMID 24930704.
- "International Butterfly Breeders Association". International Butterfly Breeders Association. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
- "Insect Rearing at Mississippi State University". International Butterfly Breeders Association. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
- "Entomology and Plant Pathology". Mississippi State University. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
- Checa,Maria F. "Butterfly farming: a successful approach to achieve conservation and development in western Ecuador." Program for Southern Lepidopterist Society and Association for Tropical Lepidoptera, Gainesville, Florida. September 26���28, 2014, p.12
- Taylor, O.R. (June 28, 1998), Monarch Watch 1999 Season Recoveries, pp. 1–11
- Araki, H.; Cooper, B. & Blouin, M. S. (2007). "Genetic effects of captive breeding cause a rapid, cumulative fitness decline in the wild". Science. 318 (5847): 100–103. doi:10.1126/science.1145621. PMID 17916734.
- O'Brien, S. J. (1987). "East African Cheetahs: Evidence for Two Population Bottlenecks?". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 84 (2): 508–511. doi:10.1073/pnas.84.2.508. PMC 304238. PMID 3467370.
- "Petition to protect the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) under the endangered species act" (PDF). Xerces Society. p. 16. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
- Zhan, Shuai; Merlin, Christine; Boore, Jeffrey L.; Reppert, Steven M. (November 23, 2012). "The monarch butterfly genome yields insights into long-distance migration". Cell. 147 (5): 1171–1185. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.09.052. PMC 3225893. PMID 22118469.
- Altizer, Sonia M. (2001). "Migratory behaviour and host–parasite co-evolution in natural populations of monarch butterflies infected with a protozoan parasite". Evolutionary Ecology Research. 3 (5). ISSN 1522-0613.
- Bull, Roger (September 10, 2010). "A butterfly hobby takes wing and brings in $300,000 a year". The Florida Times Union. Retrieved 2014-12-01.