How to Start a Butterfly Farm

With butterfly populations shrinking, "growing" your own butterflies on a butterfly farm can be a fun outdoor project. It can also be a profitable and rewarding business. Butterfly releases are popular at weddings, funerals and other events. A butterfly farm doesn't cost much to start, but can be labor intensive.

Plant host plants appropriate for your area. Some host plants include milkweed, spicebush, paw-paw and parsley. Consult a regional gardening guide to find the best plants for your area. Look for eaten leaves to see if caterpillars are living on the leaves. You can also purchase a kit.

Build homes for your caterpillars. Large jars and aquariums are appropriate housing for caterpillars. Give them sticks to pupate on. Keep them in a light space, but not in direct sunlight. Clean the cages every day.

Feed the caterpillars with host plant cuttings. Supply fresh food daily or give them a live potted plant.

Keep an eye on the caterpillars. When they build pupae, move it to a new container. Mist the pupae container daily. Make sure the pupae is high enough for the butterfly to fully extend its wings.

Construct housing for butterflies if you plan to keep them. A greenhouse filled with plants is necessary for large scale butterfly farming. Feed the butterflies nectar and non-carbonated sports drink (like Gatorade).

Get the appropriate permits if you plan to raise butterflies for commercial purposes. Talk to your municipality about zoning regulations and business licenses. Get a USDA permit.

Develop a marketing plan. Take out ads in wedding magazines and websites. Go to bridal shows. Market your services to schools, museums and zoos

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