The Butterfly Farm
Costa Rica, September 5, 2006
From their publicity on the web: "Few places in the world offer visitors a more in depth view and appreciation of butterflies. At The Butterfly Farm, widely recognized as one of the most popular destinations close to San Jose, all guests receive a two-hour guided tour. Inside an enclosed tropical garden, hundreds of Costa Rican butterflies flutter around flowers as trained guides explain about the life cycle and natural history of these fascinating creatures. Early morning tours may have the extra treat of watching butterflies emerging from their chrysalides. On export days visitors may watch thousands of pupae being packed for export."
The above map shows the area around the San Jose international airport and includes our hotel, the San Jose Palacio on the extreme right. So it was not more than 15 or 20 miles to the Butterfly Farm from our hotel. But I wouldn't have wanted to drive it. There are very few street or highway signs, very little traffic guidance of any kind. The roads are narrow and rough and crowded with pedestrians, bicyles and all kinds of work vehicles. We seemed to often be missing pedestrians or oncoming vehicles by inches. No thanks! I was appreciative of our cab driver.
These were blue morpho eggs in a cup of about 2 inch diameter, so the eggs must have been 2 to 3 mm in size. Brenda is holding the cup as a part of the tour by Diego. We joined a Mexican group that was very friendly and we had a good time with them. We met them again at two different spots on tours the next day.
Diego enjoyed clowning around with our group in both English and espanol, and had a good time telling the story of how hard it was to communicate the idea of butterfly poop to a group of Japanese tourists. He was explaining the details of caring for the growing caterpillars and the preparation for shipping all over the world. This included cleaning out excrement from the growing boxes. He finally communicated with the Japanese with the word "caca".
Brenda holds a chrysalis in the palm of her hand. This is the form in which the butterflies are shipped all over the world. Diego was immediately familiar with the butterfly house at Callaway Gardens in Georgia and confirmed that they shipped butterflies there.
Diego holds some other examples of chrysalis. They are different for different species. Below is a chrysalis for a monarch butterfly.
Diego explained to us that they had 500 partner butterfly farmers around Costa Rica working as a cooperative to grow the butterflies through the caterpillar stage and to the point of the chrysalis, at which point they can be shipped to customers.
This was a great opportunity to see butterflies - along with my visit to the Butterfly Botanical Gardens near Si Como No resort, these were the best opportunities I have ever had. The experience at the Butterfly Farm was enhanced by two wonderful guides, Diego and Viviana, who were not only knowledgeable and helpful but just super nice people.