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Colombian butterfly business takes off

Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 01:53

Feb. 23 - A Colombian mother-and-daughter company raises butterflies to sell in the U.S. and Europe. Tara Cleary reports.

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In a Colombian valley previously ravaged by civil war, an insect is playing its part to add prosperity to new-found peace. A mother-and-daughter butterfly export business is sending thousands of the insects to the U.S. and Europe every month. Patricia and Vanessa Restrepo run Alas De Colombia, one of only 19 companies in the world exporting butterflies. Vanessa Restrepo explains their appeal. SOUNDBITE: Vanessa Restrepo, Manager at Alas De Colombia, saying (Spanish): "We develop the entire reproductive process of the butterflies until the pupa stage, when we make a profit exporting it to butterfly exhibits in the United States and northern Europe. We have also developed a market in Colombia to sell adult butterflies." Caterpillar eggs are collected every morning and when hatched, the worms are placed on plants to feed. The idea for the business came from Vanessa's university thesis - to create a unique business. And after seeing a growing market for butterflies at nature reserves and exhibits Vanessa's mom, Patricia, decided to join forces with her daughter. The two studied the butterfly market and the insects for three years before launching in 2001. SOUNDBITE: Patricia Restrepo, Production Manager at Alas De Colombia, saying (Spanish): "We determined what species had more commercial demand. We established contacts with possible international clients and according to that, we started to breed the species they want depending on the quantities they need." The Mayans and the Aztecs considered the butterfly a lucky omen. And now the Restrepos are hoping the colorful insect will bring good fortune to their family business. Tara Cleary, Reuters.

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Colombian butterfly business takes off

Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 01:53