Trapping Butterflies

How I used my weed money to raise butterflies. 

When I decided to start raising butterflies it never occurred to me how satisfying it would be. But I guess I should start from the beginning. I have always been fascinated by the sight of butterflies, something about them has always felt very familiar. Growing up in Venezuela, I got to see many different types of butterflies. There are approximately 196 different species of butterflies. I have always been inspired by the beautiful metamorphosis of the butterfly.

They range from swallowtails, red admirals, painted ladies, morphos, silver washed fritillary, peacock butterflies, monarchs, large whites, grass yellow, ceporas, elodinas, heliconian and glass wings to name a few. So to say I grew up with an array of beauties is an understatement. I just never thought that as an adult my dream of living amongst butterflies would become a reality. When I met up with my friend, artist Franky Cruz I was instantly inspired- watching how he created these beautiful paintings from the residual liquid that drops when the butterfly emerges from its chrysalis (cocoon) really made an impact and kind of pushed me to create my own butterfly garden. He said something to me that day that has forever stuck with me “I watch them evolve, only to let them go’

Maybe I should take you further into the story. When I was 11 years old I had my first experience with substances (Cannabis to be exact) I remember taking it from one of my brothers. I had no Idea what I was doing, but I attempted to give it a go and rolled my first ever J- it was not a very good one and had air pockets everywhere. But hey what can you expect from a first time smoker who had no idea what she was doing.

As time progressed I became an avid smoker, you can say I became a cannabis connoisseur in my own right. During my adolescent years I really didn’t experiment with many drugs. I guess watching my brother become addicted to heroin kinda scared me from trying anything other than the occasional drink. Weed became my thing, it became my way of coping it became my therapist. I endured my share of trauma as a child and weed was my pacifier.

As I got older I started to be less careful about the things I experimented with and started abusing other drugs- Ecstasy, Acid, Alcohol, Weed with Cocaine, Percocet, Hydrocodone syrup, and lastly Oxycontin. While I was abusing all these different types of drugs I was clinically depressed, suicidal and battling serious mental health issues as well as physical health problems.

After abusing drugs for 10 years straight I decided to quit cold turkey. I gave up everything except cannabis and alcohol. That was in 2010, in 2017 I finally stopped drinking and November 1st  2020 I broke up with my longest standing relationship (cannabis) remember I started smoking at 11, fast forward 30 years later I gave up on mary Jane.

To say I spent a large amount of money on marijuana is quite comical, I was a heavy smoker sometimes smoking up to 4- 5 blunts a day. also smoking dabs was my thing, sometimes smoking a gram in one sitting. I’d wake up with a blunt in my mouth and end my day with another blunt in my mouth. Now, I had already started the process of creating a butterfly garden on my balcony but buying plants every week was becoming costly- See, once you have caterpillars you need to make sure they have plenty to eat. They can go through 1 plant in just a couple of days.

On November 1st 2020 I decided to take a 21 day break from smoking and from social media, I rolled my last J that morning and smoked it all alone. After I had a mini emotional  breakdown during my mediation it came to me. Instead of spending money on weed, use that money to buy more plants and help give back to the planet.

My purpose for raising butterflies came to me that moment “How can I be okay with the extinction of the butterflies” as someone who was magically entranced by their sight as a child, I couldn’t fathom the idea of knowing that one day my grandchildren and great grandchildren wouldn’t be able to marvel in the magic these beautiful insects bring to this planet.

So trapping butterflies became my thing, I have now raised 6 different types of species in my garden, I’ve released between 90-100 butterflies and plan on raising many more. I’ve been able to help guide others into creating a habitat in their homes to help the butterfly population continue to grow. I can proudly say I am in awe of the amount of people who have become interested in raising butterflies because they have watched me raise them.

Raising butterflies has truly been a journey of self discovery, watching the process they go through has reminded and reflected back to me my own growth and transformation. Butterflies have to die several times before becoming the beautiful winged creatures we all love to watch, as human beings in order for us to become the best versions of ourselves we also have to die, it may not be a physical death but a metaphorical one for certain.

I am grateful to be able to share time and space with them, to be able to provide an environment where they can grow and thrive. They’ve shown me how to let go of attachments, I spend a month at a time with them and once they emerge, I simply let them go. They belong to the earth, and that on its own is why I do this. learning to remove attachments has been a lesson that has taken many years, but understanding that it is okay to let go because once we let go a beautiful transformation can occur.

If you are interested in starting your own butterfly garden and creating a habitat for them, all you need to do is have or plant host plants and be patient. Care for them and dedicate a bit of your time to tending to them, if you plant the flower the butterflies will come. A lot of the butterflies I’ve raised have been from the eggs of the butterflies that were born in my garden. Be mindful, be patient and learn to give back to our planet, it provides us with everything we need, it’s time to start giving back.

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