transporting adult butterflies

evoluhol at evoluhol at
Thu Aug 20 07:35:54 EDT 1998

Dr. Bonkewitzz,

maybe amongst the following bits there may be something that might help.

Here in North America adult butterfly lifespan is and can be extended when
it is cold and dark.  Refrigeration has been used but it is essential that
they not become dehydrated (no frost free refrigerator) or starved for

I have experienced 65F degree temperatures in the Amazon when almost all
butterflies remained dormant until it warmed again -- implying that the
same conditions may work in the tropics.

In any case, as you are aware, total darkness alone can keep them dormant
and extend their short adult lifespan.

If you are not working with particular chosen species, consider using some
of them that live longer as adults.  As you know, a large percentage of
butterflies live only a very short number of days as adults, but some can
manage a month or even months. In South Amreica Heliconids that eat pollen
have long adult lives, as do Caligio butterflies.  In your area there may
be some Nymphalids that have longer adult lives. Here in my area in North
America, species like Nymphalis antiopa "hibernate" in a dark place for 2
months in the summer, come out, then return to 8 months of winter
hibernation.   In most parts of the world, Danaids, even non migratory,
live much longer than others.

David Bouton

In article <903609112.25881 at Raven>, bonkewit at (Americo
Bonkewitzz Zoology and Entomology) wrote:

> Dear Sir/Madam:
> I have to keep alive about 100 ADULT butterflies for 
> as much as possible before being released.
> I would like to know whether you can help with 
> some information of how to keep them alive and for
> how long is possible without actually killing them.
> Do I need to drop their metabolism by cooling them 
> at say 14C? ..or what is the optimum temperature and 
> general conditions for transporting them alive?
> Any information would be very much appreciated.
> Sincerely,
> Dr Americo N. Bonkewitzz
> University of Natal
> Pietermaritzburg

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