"" Writer's Wanderings: Costa Rica -- The Butterfly Farm

Friday, July 06, 2018

Costa Rica -- The Butterfly Farm

There were a lot of winding narrow roads in Costa Rica. In all fairness there were some nice highways too. But this day we were on the ones that wound around, up and down, and sometimes precariously--like the creek that we crossed on a bridge that barely went over the top. We may even have been fording the stream. I was in the back and couldn't tell. I could however see the road almost disappear at a spot where it had obviously washed away. Our driver was amazing though and got us safely through. All the bouncing and swaying was worth it. We arrived at the family complex of Jardin Mariposas La Paz.

Tony, of PIckleball Costa Rica , introduced us to the owner of the butterfly farm we were about to see. He led us between a couple of homes that faced the street. I'm guessing one was his mother's as he made reference to her garden. We stopped just outside of an enclosed back patio that looked to have a lot of plants inside. He pulled out a box and set it on the table and began to talk about his butterflies.

Changing from his job in tourism to raising butterflies was a risky proposition and one that required a lot of study. He seems to be doing well as he told us that he is shipping chrysalises all over the world. But back to the stages of the butterfly.

The farmer took us through how the eggs are laid on the leaves of plants after the butterfly has tested it for poisons. The plants in their back patio were obviously good host plants--butterfly approved.

The family members pitch in and hand pick the eggs from the leaves to place in containers where they can hatch into caterpillars. The caterpillars are then placed on the host plants that they feed from.

The caterpillars will grow into the stage that forms a pupa or chrysalis. Once they have transformed and completely been encased, they can be harvested and there is about a 15 day window where they can be sent to their destination to be hatched into a beautiful butterfly.

This butterfly looks like an owl when wings are spread.
Predators are scared away.

Once we were educated about the process, we were able to explore the butterfly house where the adult butterflies joyfully flitted from plant to flower to fruit. Tony had told us to wear our bright Pickleball t-shirts for this tour and the butterflies really loved them. Those of us with the shirts on attracted dozens of butterflies. I felt my shirt tickling my back as they landed and flew off again.

As we explored someone called out that there was a large toad in the plants at one end of the house. The farmer called out his thanks for the discovery. The toad was looking for a good meal. He would be removed as soon as we were done there.

The ride in the van over the winding roads had been well rewarded. We were all in awe and left amazed.


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