A number of queries tend to come up rather regularly; please check through these if you have a question for us before dropping us a line
This is something we are asked about on a regular basis! Particularly in the USA, butterflies are often released at weddings (by guests, usually) as a spectacular showpiece.
We do not sell butterflies for this purpose and, since we only sell butterflies in the pupa form, tropical conditions would need to be created to get the butterflies to emerge anyway – rather a lot of work when planning a wedding!
On the whole, indigenous species are used for this sort of release – see the comments under the release FAQ.
If your intention is to release butterflies for a wedding either in Europe or North America, then these may be useful links:
Butterfly Connections – butterflies for release in the UK.
Gribbly Bugs – painted ladies for release in the UK.
Pupa Pavillion – Butterfly Release in Switzerland and surrounding countries for weddings and other events with ingenious species. Butterflies for movies, photos and advertising with ingenious and tropical species.
Butterfly Events (Monarch butterfly releases in the US only)
Butterfly Celebration (Painted Lady butterflies for release in Europe or the US)
Butterflies for Release
Purchase of butterflies for release is most usually requested for weddings but occasionally other reasons are proffered. The first and most relevant factor is that we only sell butterfly pupae, which means that they need to be emerged into butterflies before they could be released. This requires some expertise and also specialist equipment as all the species we sell are tropical in nature.
Beyond this factor however, is the fact that the species are tropical. Most requests for butterflies for release come from non-tropical regions so the butterflies are simply not suitable. In the first instance without tropical heat and humidity they would not survive well and from the point of view of the wedding, they would be unlikely to “perform”.
Furthermore, as far as the UK is concerned, the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, prohibits release of species into the wild which are not indigenous or natural, wild visitors. See here.
As this legislation implements the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, this is likely to be the same in all EU countries.
We did once trade some indigenous species such as Tortoiseshells, the Camberwell Beauty and so on. We no longer do so however. The only species we now trade are tropical varieties – a full list is in our catalogue and there is a list of the species available now.
We do trade some species of moths, although the range is limited, over 98% of our stock being butterflies. Our catalogue has the list of species that we might have over a year, although in truth the most frequently available is Attacus atlas.
Much like the lifespan of a butterfly, the length of time the pupae stays as a pupa varies from species to species. The span can be increased by keeping the pupae cool (relative to tropical temperatures) and retarding their transformation, however, this must be done carefully – making the pupae cold or putting them in a fridge will likely kill them and should never be done.
Some species will only be pupae for three or four days, which makes them almost impossible to trade as they need to get from breeder to The Entomologist and then on to a customer. On average, though, most pupae we trade will be pupae for around a week to ten days, perhaps longer for some papilios. Customers would thus expect butterflies to be emerging, given the correct conditions, between 1 and 5 days from receipt of pupae.
Note that there are exceptions to this with diapause pupae which are essentially pupae in a hibernating form. These can be refrigerated but on exposure to tropical conditions will resume metamorphosis. Nevertheless, the diapause form of Attacus atlas, for instance, can stay a cocoon for many months.
Kits, Emerging Cages and Other Equipment
The Entomologist do not sell any of the peripheral material for breeding or keeping butterflies – this is mostly because over 90% of our customer base is in exhibitions and zoos, so they already have all the equipment they need.
However, for the enthusiast, we do have a hopefully useful description of an emerging cage here.
Dead, Dried or Mounted Butterflies
The Entomologist is a supplier of butterfly pupae predominantly however we do supply dried papered specimens through our ebay shop. Click on the link which will direct you to our Ebay shop
As noted above, we only sell butterfly species and only as pupae. Beetles, scorpions, ants, locusts, phasmids and other exotica do not come under our range.
Collecting Pupae from Us
This is not a possibility, sorry! Our premises are really just a hub for quickly moving butterfly pupae from our breeders to our customers in the shortest time possible.
The Entomologist does not trade any species that are protected by C.I.T.E.S. regulations (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). It is possible to trade some of these species if the necessary paperwork is filled out but it is our feeling that there is no need fulfilled by this and there are plenty of other beautiful species that are not covered by the C.I.T.E.S. regulations.
You can find out more about C.I.T.E.S here.
Purchasing Eggs, Caterpillars or Butterflies
We receive a number of requests for caterpillars, eggs or butterflies that we have to decline. We sell only butterflies in the pupa or cocoon form; this is the only form at which they are transportable. For eggs and larvae we recommend WorldWide Butterflies www.wwb.co.uk
The lifespan of butterflies depends on the species in question and, of course, the conditions they are kept in (and whether they hibernate or not, which is not taken into account here). Generally speaking, there are two types of butterfly (as far as longevity is concerned).
Firstly there are the species that only consume nectar – these are species like papilios and nymphalidae. Nectar is purely an energy source and consequently the lifespans of these species are short – sometimes as low as a week but usually up to three or more in good conditions.
The second type are those that feed on both nectar and pollen; pollen is a protein source so allows some rejuvenation of body tissue and thus these species live longer, around three months or so as a general guide. This category is filled by species like heliconidae.
For breeding purposes, different species of caterpillars feed on different plants so many plants might be needed – and then further plants are needed to provide nectar source for butterflies.
The Entomologist cannot provide foodplants and have no dealings with places which may. Please note that some plant species may require import permits.
NOTE: depending where plants are purchased, soil may contain insecticides which would be harmful to butterflies!
We receive a number of requests for advice regarding construction of tropical greenhouses, what species to start breeding with and so on. Please email us for more details.
Sexing of Pupae
Although it is possible to do this (see this example out of interest) it is not possible for all species and is, in any case, too time-consuming.
We do not guarantee orders such as “5 males and 5 females”, statistical chance will have to be relied upon and we try to mix the sexes by size only without any guarantee.
We have no exhibition for our butterflies, so cannot offer facility for photographers to take pictures. Inevitably, some of our pupae do emerge on site but they are then taken to “The Butterfly Gardens @ Middleton Common Farm” to be released.
it is exhibitions like this where enquiries regarding photography should be directed.