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A butterfly release can be a beautiful and special part of an event but only if certain guidelines are followed.

If you have decided that you want a butterfly release here is a good practice guide to help you choose the right butterfly supplier.

Are the butterflies offered for sale suitable for release?

 Here in the UK there are actually very few species which can safely be released. Ask your supplier what kind of butterflies they supply. You should choose native migratory butterflies such as Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). Painted lady butterflies migrate to the UK every year from Southern Europe and Africa. This means that they are a robust species of butterfly capable of flying long distances. It also means that whilst they occur naturally, in the wild, in Britain, they won't interfere with delicate, local populations of native, non- migratory species. Other similar species include Red admiral and Small Tortoiseshell. The migrant butterflies offered for release must be normally resident in the UK. This means that they must be native and migratory. It is generally considered unethical and bad practice to release other native species (unless you have a licence to do so). It is illegal to release non-native species. Click here for a more in depth guide to British butterfly species.

How are the butterflies packaged for delivery?

An ethical supplier will ensure that each butterfly is contained within its own individual release box. The release boxes will be specially designed to protect the butterfly. Every butterfly will be as fresh as possible and will have been fed and flown prior to transportation.

Does the supplier breed their own butterflies?

A trustworthy supplier will breed their own livestock and will set aside eggs and caterpillars, as they hatch, for your event. This means that they will typically ask for notice of your order (usually 6-8 weeks) to ensure that they have sufficient numbers of adult butterflies (imagos) available. Following the life cycle of each butterfly closely means that the butterfly breeder is able to ensure that the butterflies are healthy and ready for release.