Mzanzu from Kenya, Benito from Ecuador, and Yulia from Malaysia are hit hard by the COVID Crisis.
They and hundreds of other families all around the globe are breeding Butterflies professionally and the temporary closure of butterfly exhibits worldwide means that there are no buyers for their pupae anymore. For now, they are left without means to make a living.
Butterfly breeding is a highly specialized, labor-intensive, and skilled occupation. It takes years of experience and a passion for the precious insects to learn all about it.
Therefore breeders tend to specialize in breeding only a few species and their specific host plants: One family will concentrate on producing splendid blue Morphos, another focuses on the beautiful Paperkite with their golden pupae and others produce Longwings, which feed only on Passionflower vines.
Each of these species needs to be provided with large quantities of their own special host plant, as caterpillars are very hungry creatures. But, when one is working with nature, innumerable things can and will go wrong in the process: parasites might kill the butterfly larvae, draughts make raising the indispensable host plants almost impossible and storms can damage the netted enclosures.
All this makes Butterfly farming a challenging profession, even at the best of times!
But until recently, it has provided many families around the world with a steady and sustainable source of income.No-one could have prepared, financially or otherwise, for the situation they are now all facing.
Within just a few weeks, starting as early as February, everything in the trade came to a complete and sudden halt as butterfly exhibits all over the world had to close down due to COVID-19 regulations.
Most of them have yet to reopen, facing their own financial struggles without visitors.
Besides, the suspension of most global flights has made it almost impossible to export pupae from their country of origin.
Butterfly pupae are the conveniently "dormant" life-stage which makes it possible to send butterflies from the tropics around the world. They are also a fragile commodity that needs to be handled and delivered in a short time.
Also, butterfly breeding is not something you can just put a hold on, for the time being. You need to keep your animal well-cared for during this period, so you can re-start later. For now, though there are only work and expenses without earnings.
As a result of this, from one week to the next, Mzanzu, Benito, Yulia, and hundreds of others could not provide for their families anymore.
We want to help them get through this time- so that they´ll be able to start their businesses again once this has passed.
We are the "International Association of Butterfly Exhibitors and Suppliers", IABES, an organization that brings together butterfly exhibitors and breeders.
We have already set up a fund of $20,000 USD to support the breeders. This money will be distributed by local coordinators as soon as possible to help those with the greatest needs.
But this is not enough to help the more than 400 families, who need support as long as the crisis lasts.
That´s why we are asking you to help us support butterfly breeders with a donation, however small it may be.
They deserve not to be left alone in these troubled times.
PLEASE HELP US HELP THEM!
- joan chen
- Debra Hazelett
- Grace Munakata
- Michelle Kwan