Anastasia Andrews home-schools her two kids. For the past five years they have been ordering and raising Painted Lady butterflies as a way to learn more about the metamorphosis process in the spring time.
“It’s one thing to talk about metamorphosis and taking our pollinators lives seriously, but it’s another thing to see it happen and witness that miracle – it makes it more personal so really it has a stronger meaning if you can see the process,” says Andrews.
Andrews orders the butterflies in bulk and distributes them to the homeschooling community in Greater Victoria, ordering a total of 80 larvae kits for 45 families.
“The funny thing is when the larvae arrive at my house, they’re all in one container,” says Andrews – each kit contains six larvae. “[That’s] almost 500 larvae and I have to separate each one with a paintbrush into the feeding kits – so 80 is enough.”
Despite the tedious work, Andrews says her kids love the experience and that’s all that matters.
“This is their fifth year so they’re very knowledgeable about it but they never fail to find something new and exciting that happens during the process,” says Andrews.
The process takes about four weeks for the larvae to fully develop before they can be released into the wild.
“[The kids] take such ownership that they become like their pets,” says Andrews. “They want to replace the orange every morning and see how they’ve developed. They really take it on themselves.”
Justin Dunning, live collection manager at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, says raising butterflies is a great way to get kids “aged zero to 90” involved and interested in the environment.
“I think they’re great. They’re good for education, they get kids interested – there’s just more of a connect that way,” says Dunning.
Dunnings cautions potential butterfly farmers to do their research and make sure they know what kind of butterflies they’re raising and releasing, saying Painted Lady butterflies are the way to go.
“I don’t really agree with people releasing monarchs,” says Dunning. “A lot of monarch populations have specific migration routes so it’s not the greatest thing to take the East Coast Monarch and release it on the West Coast.”
FlutterBuys, a butterfly release farm in Langley, has been selling the kits along with instructions on how to raise the butterflies, for the past 13 years.
Kim Sutton, owner of the farm, says the idea evolved out of a general passion for butterflies.
“It started with people wanting them to release at weddings and funerals, but got into the larvae kits because people started asking me about growing them themselves and kind of progressed from there,” says Sutton.
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