Planning a Successful Butterfly Release

Butterflies are a great addition to any celebration and weddings are certainly one of the best. Just as you choose a personal assistant, bridesmaid and flower girl, you should choose a Butterfly Attendant. This person will handle the butterflies as needed and it will be less worry for the bride and groom.

Be sure to select a member of the IBBA to supply your butterflies, to make sure you will receive bright, healthy and strong butterflies that will make a beautiful release and magical memory. See our list of professional butterfly farmers by clicking here.

Some rules for all releases include:

(1) Butterflies should be released outside during daylight hours, on a sunny or overcast (but not rainy!) day with a temperature above 60 F. Ideally, you should plan to let them fly free no later than two hours before sunset. This will allow sufficient time for them to nectar (eat) and to find a safe hiding place for the night.

(2) Hold your release in an area protected from the wind, or they will quickly disappear! A sunny, warm, flower-filled area or garden is best. The butterflies’ first flight is usually very short, and they will instinctively fly toward the brightest object — the bride or people wearing bright colors — or towards flowers and bouquets.

Any additional instructions may be received from the breeder you are working with. Remember that IBBA breeders have the highest ethical code in the business and their first thoughts are always for the comfort of the butterflies. Butterflies can be shipped to you usually via overnight shipping. Butterflies are packaged individually in envelopes for their protection. The small envelopes are placed in a cool packed box and then re-boxed for additional protection for the butterflies during shipping.

The following MS WORD documents can be downloaded and modified for supply to your customers. These are based on actual documents used by two IBBA members with extensive experience in butterfly breeding for release.

Warm Weather Releases

Cool Weather Releases

Care of Butterflies

Transfer of Butterflies for Mass Releases

Types of releases include:

(1) Using a display cage: There are many types of display cages available. The butterflies should be gently transferred from the shipping envelopes into the cage by opening the envelope and urging the butterfly to the sides of the cage. The cage should be able to accommodate the number of butterflies you have ordered. Once inside the display cage, the butterflies will need to be feed and watered. Please see below for those instructions. Place the butterflies in a warm, sunny area to energize. Never place them in the direct sunlight.

(2) Using a mass release box: The envelopes can be opened and the butterflies placed inside a release box. Be sure to put some paper toweling on the bottom of the box so the butterflies have something to hang onto. Hang one corner of the paper towel over the side of the box. Place a folded paper towel with nectar on it in the bottom of the box. Place another folded paper towel damp with water next to the nectar. Try to keep the lid of the box adjusted so the butterflies cannot take flight from your hand while you are opening the envelope. This can best be accomplished in a dark, cool room and having a large piece of tulle available to cover the box opening while you are transferring the butterflies from the shipping envelopes to the box. If the butterflies do take flight, they will head for the sun or brightest light. Gently cup your hand over the butterfly and place it in the box. When all butterflies have been placed inside the box, close the lid. You may wish to place the tulle netting over the box (under the lid) so the butterflies can be seen with little chance of their escaping. The butterflies will rest for many hours in this box. Prior to the release, place the box in an area of warmth for at least an hour. However, do not overheat, as there may be no ventilation in your release box. Never place the box in direct sunlight.

(3) Using individual release envelopes: If you are releasing from the shipping envelopes, place the envelopes in a basket and distribute them to your friends and family from the basket.

The envelopes are easily opened and if the butterflies are warm enough, they will take flight. If they have not been warmed sufficiently, the butterflies may take a while to actually begin their flights.

Feeding the Butterflies:

If you transfer the butterflies from the envelopes they are into a box or display cage, they will need to be fed. We recommend the following using Melon or Passion Fruit Gatorade. Simply pour some Gatorade on a few cotton balls in a shallow dish and place inside the box or display cage. The butterflies will find it. The butterflies will also need to be lightly misted with plain water. You can spray the water onto the sides of the cage or box or dampen a paper towel and lay it inside the container.

Please feel free to call your butterfly supplier at any time for answers to your questions.

Creating a Butterfly Themed Event

There are many ways to carry a butterfly theme throughout your special occasion. Consider a butterfly release, butterfly themed decorations, favors, etc. See our list of professional butterfly farmers by clicking here.

Best Wishes from the members of the IBBA!