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In Costa Rica, butterfly breeders protect the forest

January 16, 2020

Butterfly breeding schemes in wildlife-rich Costa Rica aim to bring cash to local communities and protect forest habitats by exporting "ambassadors of beauty" to the rest of the world.

A hand holding a blue butterfly
Image: Pablo Cambronero

Costa Rica: Breeding butterflies for the world

Just a few years ago, Jenny Viquez had to quit her office job because of serious back problems. Now, the Costa Rican spends her days searching for butterfly eggs and caterpillars on her family finca near the country's capital, San Jose.

The Viquezs are now among 400 families who make a living from breeding the creatures for export in Costa Rica, a biodiversity hotspot home to more than 15,000 species of butterfly and moth, according to entomologist Ricardo Murillo.

The butterflies are bred sustainably and to strict environmental standards, according toCosta Rica Entomological Supply, one of the companies involved. They usually go to botanical gardens and butterfly exhibits in places like the US and Europe.

Families involved in breeding butterflies often come from poorer rural communities in the Latin American country and can earn a decent income with the work, while at the same time, protecting the forest and lush habitats in which the insects dwell.

A film by Anna Marie Goretzki

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