Feature: Leading butterfly exporter Costa Rica aims for China market

Feature: Leading butterfly exporter Costa Rica aims for China market

Costa Rica is the leading exporter of butterflies in Latin America and among the top five incubators in the world.

(Soundbite) ANABELLE GONZALEZ, Butterfly Exporter
“Our goal now is to reach the Chinese market. We have to make some choice when reaching the Chinese market, as only part of the species is good for there. Some chrysalises have very short duration before birth, but the most beautiful ones can last longer before they are born.”

Major export destinations currently include the United States, Russia, Chile, the Netherlands, Austria, Canada and Mexico, for exhibition at zoo, environmental maintenance, wedding celebration and lab dissection.

(Soundbite) ILEANA ALFARO, Butterfly Exporter
“About 25 years ago, Costa Rica started to export butterflies. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the first countries that conduct the business. This has helped us lead the market ever since.”

The Central American country boasts about 2,157 species of daytime butterflies and more than 3,000 nocturnes, representing around 10 percent of the world’s diversity.

(Soundbite) Ileana Alfaro, Butterfly Exporter
“Costa Rican butterflies have their habitats. We have the plants where they decide to put eggs. In other countries, they do not have the plants where they can lay eggs.”

About 400 Costa Rican families live on production of butterflies, especially in rural areas in the Caribbean region, where farm expertise is profound and butterfly breeding emerges as an alternative source of income.

(Soundbite) Anabelle Gonzalez, Butterfly Exporter
“The families sell us butterfly cocoons for export. Each family prepares its production on weekly schedule and then sends them to us for packaging and distribution.”

The survival rate of butterflies stands around 85 to 95 percent in captivity. In contrast, only five percent can reach their mature stage in natural conditions without artificial protection due attacks by various predators and viruses.

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