Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Education: Rearing butterflies
Rearing butterflies
Rearing Butterflies can be an interesting pursuit and extremely educational. Like many pursuits, there are certain rules, regulations and common sense which should be adhered to to get the most out of rearing butterflies without causing damage to wild populations, their habitats and individual insects.

When rearing butterflies for personal interest, educational or research purposes, there are certain ethics and standards which everyone should adhere to. There are also strict laws governing some of our protected species. Ignorance of these laws is no defence.

Top Five Tips
1. Rear only commons species.
2. Know the law regarding protected species.
3. Adhere to local by-laws.
4. Collect only one or two eggs or larvae.
5. Release adults at the location from where originally collected.

Where to release the adult butterflies?
Do not release species into areas where they do not occur naturally.

It's OK if you are simply rearing through eggs which you personally collected locally and are not protected species. So long as these are released at the same location from which they were collected, no harm will be done.

Do not release any livestock which did not originate from the area into which you intend to release. If the specimens you release are not local, they may be of a different subspecies or require slightly different habitats due to variations in their genetic makeup. It is important to note that not all subspecies are necessarily distinguishable to the naked eye.

Releasing livestock from a captive bred source may artificially distort recording and conservation efforts. Many volunteers monitor butterfly numbers throughout the year across the UK in order to development a good scientific understanding of species status. Where declines in numbers occur, effective action to prevent those declines can take place.

Commercial releases
British Butterflies does not agree with or endorse any form of commercial butterfly release for weddings or as part of promotional stunts by corporate business.

Do not release livestock which you have purchased from breeders and livestock dealers into the wild. The origin of such livestock is often dubious and you may also be introducing genetic weaknesses or disease into the local wild population as a result of in-breeding caused by captive breeding programs.

Butterflies Protected by Law
It is a criminal offence to disturb in any way or collect certain species as eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis or adults. This includes netting adults to aid identification in the field even if they are released unharmed. Rearing these species from wild collected stock is also illegal.

For more information about the species currently protect by law under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.