Daily Sentinel: Silt butterfly breeder thrives as her livestock
By MIKE McKIBBIN
SILT - Most farmers don't use cotton swabs to raise their
crops - unless they raise butterflies.
Krys Moquin calls herself a butterfly farmer, as well as
a wildlife rehabilitator, on a small parcel of land in the
Divide Creek area south of Silt. She has operated the nonprofit
Animals 2-by-2 animal sanctuary and educational foundation
for about 25 years.
Moquin has cared for foxes, raccoons, pythons, cockatoos
and about every other kind of animal, she said. But it wasn't
until this past spring she decided to raise butterflies.
"It's just kind of a natural introduction to the world
of nature," Moquin said. "Butterfly farmers use
Q-tips instead of shovels, so that's a lot easier."
Moquin raised about 70 monarch butterflies this year and
hopes to make it a full-time business called Beautiful Butterflies
this coming year.
Butterflies are released at weddings, funerals, emotional
and spiritual celebrations of all kinds, she said.
"I thought it was neat that this is the only kind
of livestock you raise that will be released back to the
wild," Moquin said. "And I'm very careful to only
use organic food, and I check them all for diseases"
under a microscope.
A Native American legend holds that if you can catch a
butterfly, whisper a wish to it, then release it, the butterfly
will take that wish to the Great Spirit for good luck, she
Moquin set up a large tent in her yard so the monarchs
could exercise. This winter, she plans to build a greenhouse
and start to take orders this spring.
"I think I'm the only butterfly breeder on the West
Slope," Moquin said.
She has worked with the International Butterfly Breeders
Association and must follow U.S. Department of Agriculture
regulations on transporting the butterflies.
"Just like with the animals, their habitats are encroached
on more and more, and people can be so indiscriminate with
their pesticides," Moq! uin said.
Monarch butterflies need milkweed plants, considered a
noxious weed, to lay their eggs. The young caterpillars
will then only eat the milkweed leaves, Moquin said.
Monarchs migrate toward Mexico for the winter and return
in the spring, breeding along the way since they only live
for two weeks, Moquin said.
Her animals seemed to accept the butterflies.
"The iguana was fascinated by the chrysalis (a development
stage), and the cockatoo didn't care for them too much,
but she got used to them," Moquin said.
None of her cats ate any of them, but they closely watched
them fly around her home, she said.
Moquin also plans to use the butterflies in educational
programs, such as those she has done for years with the
wildlife she cares for, in schools, seniors centers and
"It's just incredible to see them change from caterpillars
to butterflies," Moquin said.
For more information, go online to www.rof.net/wp/2by2zoo
or www.butterflybreeders.com .
Mike McKibbin can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
(c) 2004 Cox Newspapers, Inc. - The Daily Sentinel
Record Number: 10662E117A1BD9F4