Why to raise butterflies in captivity in Costa Rica?

To answer this question first let me introduce our project to you visitors:

Spirogyra is a butterfly farm located within walking distance of San Jose, Costa Rica's capital, with a 350 m2 butterflies exhibition garden.

When we established Spirogyra we proposed ourselves to establish a garden-park where to breed and develop butterflies in captivity and increase the natural butterfly population of the area. Here they will find a natural habitat in a biological adequate medium and at the same time we offer to visitors a vital space, an ecological corner, a place to relax, shady and with abundant vegetation which invites to enjoy; a garden-park where to learn, contemplate and photograph butterflies located in a natural habitat to them. Let us say that its design invites in a pleasant and humble way, to give value to our Costarrican great biodiversity and biological wealth. Although a small country in it's geographical size, Costa Rica is big because of the variety of it’s biological system.

Our farm is located in San Jose, the capitol city of Costa Rica and one of our goals is to protect and beautify what may be one of the last little forests existing in the midst of this crammed city. Recently we opened a self guided trail “The Contemplation Path” that goes through the part of the 1,7 acres farm inside the Torres River basin, so that people can walk and observe on their own, the richness of this little forest gallery.

We have a very strong interest in butterflies as educational tools and through responsible breeding, we provide a model for sustainable development. Our educational facility and 3.800 square foot exhibition-garden hosts a number of school groups from all over the country and visitors from all over the world.

Although we are licensed breeders and exporters of approximately 20 species of butterfly pupa, we are also agents for at least 20 independent breeders from various regions of the country that live in different rural communities on the fringe of the natural rain forest, where there is much pressure on undisturbed areas to be cleared for lumber and traditional farming. Some of these, are women breeders groups which have been specially trained by our biologist.

Our goal with these groups is to provide training and a means to market independently grown pupae, thus providing an alternative means of using ecologically valuable land as a source of income while maintaining a minimum impact on the ecosystem.

Our breeding and exportation project

The project heart is the production of butterflies in captivity. Its objectives are:

  • To incorporate groups of women and men who live in buffering fringe areas of the rain forest, in a non-traditional productive project development in order to keep them away from traditional activities such as raising cattle, lumbering, traditional agriculture and others, which cause serious damage to the environment.
  • To become a new source of income for the families of the women and men involved in it.
  • Educate the population regarding the use and conservation on natural resources.
    It has been designed to function under an integrated focus together with the commercialization of chrysalides, and managed by different organizations located on different ecological level, all around the country, which accounts for a great variety of butterfly species that, can be produced and commercialized.
    As of now, the groups included in this project are:
  • ASOMUCAN: Caño Negro women association
  • APRODUMA San Carlos
  • Plus 15 INDEPENDENT BREEDERS and their families like:: Edgar Abarca family, Donald Arce family, Marvin Otarola family, Ricardo Bermudez family, etc

Other interesting facts

  • The size of the groups varies from four to fifteen members each.
  • Education level among this women and men is mainly that of having completed elementary school (47.4%), followed by those who haven't finished elementary school (23.7%).
  • The communities where the butterfly farms are located offer few chances for employment of these women and men, being housekeeping, agricultural labor, raising cattle and lumbering their main occupation. The scarce alternatives for paid employment cause, in some cases, migrations to other zones of the country, where women and men are hired in activities like banana packaging plants, construction.


While raising pupae ourselves, we are also agents for this organized small associations or individual producers by doing all the chrysalides marketing.


This project has generated important results for these people, which have been achieved through services obtained through the groups’ own effort. Among these are the development of knowledge and skills, the increase in motivation and achievement capability, reinforcement of values and attitudes, and a higher self-esteem and valuation within their family and communities. Through their participation in this project, these women and men have created important spaces in which to talk and analyze their problems and needs and gather strength for their participation in community structures.

Family Participation in the project

Regarding the participation of other family members in the butterfly farms, boys and girls help their mothers in their chores of collecting plants and butterflies. The men, on the other hand, have cooperated with the women in the chores of cleaning the lots and the construction of the infrastructures. Occasionally, men bring plants and butterflies they have collected in the jungle to the women .

Impact on the Environment

The project has caused that both the families and communities involved have widen their view of their surroundings and to appreciate more fully the existing natural resources within their communities. Before, they thought that all the "worms"(larvae) were pests, and the host plants were weeds, unaware to their potential usefulness.
Their observation capability for nature have sharpened to a degree of having almost become "practical" scientists. Therefore being able to identify every stage of the reproductive cycle of the species they are involved with, as well as other new species found in the wilderness when they go on exploration to avoid inbreeding.

Overall Goal

The intended goal is to provide the means to a minority (rural women and men) to increase their social and economic level through the use of renewable natural resources, thus avoiding the need for environmentally harmful practices such as migrations, selling the wood on their lands, agrochemical oriented agriculture, and so forth.
This empowers them to decide for themselves, creates a wider awareness of nature, and set the standards for future generations to try and live in harmony with nature.

For more information please visit: and If you have any question write to me,
Sol Carballo


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