Butterflies from Costa Rica, the world’s leading exporter, spread wings in Dubai, Europe and the US

Donald Arce taps a black cloth from the butterfly farm next to his home in Siquirres, Costa Rica. About 300 blue morpho butterflies "layers" they flutter and paint the environment vibrant blue. Soon, their young will do the same, on a trip around the world.

Maple is 44 years old and has dedicated half his life to the production of butterfly pupae, becoming one of the world’s largest breeders of the Morpho peleides species, which on the one hand is brown, which helps it camouflage itself, and iridescent blue of the other.

It produces between 2,000 and 2,500 pupae per week, the majority for export. The figure, according to Secsa and Butterfly Kingdom -two of the five exporting companies in the country-, places Arce as one of the main world producers of this species.

Costa Rica is the main exporter of butterflies, a market in which other countries in the region also stand out, such as Colombia, Ecuador and El Salvador.

In the tropical and humid Caribbean town of Siquirres, its butterflies feed on bananas and a concoction whose ingredients Arce keeps secret.

In his butterfly garden he has "layers", which it joins with the smaller males, in a ratio of 4 to 1. Then it introduces the host plant, about 75 centimeters high and with some branches and leaves.

When it is filled with eggs, it is taken to the laboratory, where there are huge shelves marked with exact days and times of the process."Here the eggs last 12 days"says Arce, accompanied by his wife, daughter and son, who help him at work.

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"When the larvae hatch, they move to the field [una finca] until they become cocoon [durante un mes] and they go back to the lab to bag themselves", Explain.

Maple looks for perfect specimens for which he makes sure that each cocoon is symmetrical, if it is not, he explains, he discards it because the butterfly would be born disproportionate.

He packs them in small boxes with an inner cotton bed. Depending on the weather, the product has between 12 and 18 days to reach its recipient, before the butterflies hatch.


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