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Feb 25, 2021

The Booming Business of Butterflies

Most people only see Belize’s beautiful butterflies one at a time, when they land on a garden flower.  But imagine being surrounded by them all the time. Tonight, News Five’s Andrea Polanco has a story about the people in the Stann Creek District who care for these delicate creatures from the time they are eggs through their gorgeous metamorphosis.  In return, the butterflies have helped the family business go through a transformation of its own.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

There are more than three thousand butterflies in Ya’axkin Butterfly house. Inside you can find more than eight native species, including the striking Owl Butterfly and the magnetic Blue Morpho.


Cipriano Saqui

Cipriano Saqui, Co-Owner, Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm

“What actually amazes me is one of the specific species, the Blue Morpho – I never thought that one day we would be able to grow those and they are very beautiful. It is amazing how they start from eggs up to the pupa.”


Andrea Polanco

“Is it difficult to maintain them – to keep three thousand plus butterflies?”


Cipriano Saqui

“It is. It is difficult and we have some staff working with us because without them we wouldn’t be able to reach where we are today. It is very tedious and you have to have the passion for it as well.”


…and that passion runs deep in the family. Javier Saqui prides himself on caring for literally thousands of butterflies – and keeping the population replenished and healthy.


Javier Saqui

Javier Saqui, Co-Owner, Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm

“I really love what I do – working with the butterflies. The first thing that we do in the morning is to clean up the butterfly house and we put fresh leaf inside for egg laying and we make sure that their foods are fresh and they have enough sugar and water inside the feeders.”



It’s a small family owned business. The Saquis simply wanted to bring a new attraction in their home village of Maya Center on the Southern Highway.


Cipriano Saqui

“As a family we decided that we wanted to do something unique in the Stann Creek District since it is a hub for the tourism industry. We are close to Placencia, as well as Hopkins. So, we came up with this idea to do butterfly farming and it was basically for display since we are the entrance of the Jaguar Reserve as well and so we have tourists coming in and out.”


…and that’s how they came up with the idea for a butterfly farm in 2016.  It was mostly trial and error because the family didn’t know anything about the butterfly business. They started from scratch – with just a dream.


Cipriano Saqui

“How to actually grow butterflies; what do they feed on; where do they lay their eggs? We had to do all of those. We had to go into the forest and try getting some butterflies and lay eggs and bringing them in here. All of that we had to do. It is a long process.   We knew it was going to be something that was a challenge for us because we had no experience at all, but we knew it was going to happen so we pushed forward for it.”


With financing, research, and hard work they opened their doors to the public in 2019. And that’s how they created Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm– the only one of its kind in Stann Creek. For this enterprising family it is just as much about a new experience as it is as about education in conservation.


Javier Saqui

“We love having visitors here and we also get locals as well. We also do educational tours for kids. So, this butterfly farm is also a part of conversation – a big role in conservation. We love explaining to them the life cycle that they can see for themselves. They learn it at school but here they see the whole process.”


But as the pandemic hit the tourism industry, the visits to the Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm dwindled. And that’s where the other branch of their business called the Belize Pupae Supply comes in. In part two of our story we’ll tell you how this small, thriving business is tapping into the exportation of pupas and other opportunities in the booming billion dollar business of butterflies. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


If you enjoyed that story, we hope you will join us for more on the business side of Belizean butterflies on Friday.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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