Marc and Coleen Panton own an operate operate the Butterfly Dreams Farm in Black River, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. This month we interview Marc Panton and discuss butterflies in Jamaica.
Q. How did you get into the business of butterflies?
My wife and I fell in love with butterflies on our honeymoon in St. Maarten where we visited a butterfly farm. We wished to copy the concept here in Jamaica but found out that you could not import butterflies so the obvious answer was to learn how to breed them….and we did.
Q. How many types of butterflies are in Jamaica ?
There are 133 described species and subspecies in Jamaica (maybe more now with invasive species such as the lime swallowtail, papilio demoleus) of which 31 are endemic.
Q. Does Jamaica have any rare butterflies? Does the cockpit country play any role in the survival of butterflies in Jamaica ?
Absolutely. The Graphium marcellinus (kite swallowtail) and the Papilio homerus (giant swallowtail) are rare but the Papilio homerus is an endangered species and is protected under the CITES protocol. The homerus swallowtail is the third largest butterfly in the world and the largest in the Americas . It only lives one area of the cockpit country and a part of the Blue Mountains .
Q. How do lore the different butterflies to your farm
We encourage butterflies to visit our farm by providing an ideal environment for them. We provide both nectar plants (for adults to feed) and host plants (plants that the adult will lay on and the caterpillars will feed on. By the way, we only breed butterflies that offer no threat to agricultural crops, with the exception of Papilio andraemon which feeds on citrus.
Q. What do people buy the butterflies to do?
Butterflies are purchased from us to be released at any special event, weddings are most popular but we supply for birthdays, funerals, anniversaries, graduations, etc. In addition to being beautiful when released, butterflies symbolize change, a transformation if you will which is applicable in almost all scenarios. We offer two types of releases – a basket release and envelope release. The basket release allows the release of many butterflies from one container while the envelope release allows your guests to be a part of the special occasion since each person gets a single butterfly in an envelope.
We call our butterflies “living confetti”.
Q. When you release the butterfly at weddings do you have a trap to catch the back?
When our butterflies are released, they are free to enjoy their lives. We do not catch them back. This is important to our clients for two reasons. 1. It is their contribution to the environment by repopulating an area with butterflies and 2. each batch of butterflies is unique to that person…nobody else will use those butterflies.
Q. How many butterflies do you normally let go at a wedding
Our minimum package is 25 butterflies. After that, the sky is the limit.
Q. What is the most unusual request for butterflies you have gotten?
Butterflies are so beautiful that it would be difficult to create an unusual request but we have provided butterflies for a nude wedding.
Q. Thanks for the interview.
Hope this was helpful.