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DIY Butterfly Release

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#1 Butterflies For Release

Butterflies For Release
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    Posted 02 February 2009 - 06:54 PM

    Imagine a Butterfly Release. The bride is holding the top of the release container, and the groom is holding the bottom. The bride then pulls the top of the release container away and suddenly the bride and groom are standing in a cloud of colorful butterflies. Some of the butterflies land on the bride and groom. Some fly away, and some land on other members of the celebration. It's an unforgettable moment and results in amazing memories and beautiful photos!

    If your budget does not have room for a butterfly release, here are some DIY directions for you.

    The original version of this article is at DIY Butterfly Release

    Important Information

    To have a successful butterfly release, the temperature must be at least 60° F, and preferably 65°+ F. If the air is colder than that your butterflies will not be able to fly.
    Rain Rain Go Away
    If it rains at your wedding, cancel your butterfly release unless it's a light rain. A light rain will cause them to land right away. A heavy rain could kill them. Just wait till the rain is over and release them then.
    USDA regulations
    Warning: release butterflies in the same state you collect them in. USDA regulations require a permit to release butterflies in a different state from the one they were collected in. This is a very important law that protects not only the butterflies but also farmers. For example if you collect a pretty white butterfly called the pieris rapae and release it near a cabbage farmer you could cause problems for him/her. They know pieris rapae as "that worm that will try to eat my entire crop". The common name of that butterfly is the "Cabbage White". Be responsible and only release butterflies reasonably close to where they were collected and never across state lines. Responsible butterfly farmers will know which butterflies can be shipped to you safely and will have the permits needed to ship them. Without the permits and knowledge, it's better to just never take them over a state line.
    Expired Butterflies
    Even if you do everything perfectly, you can still end up with some expired butterflies. This is because most butterflies have a short lifespan. Some species live as little as two days as an adult. Most butterfly species have an adult lifespan of roughly four weeks. Because you are not raising your butterflies from caterpillars like butterfly farmers you cannot know how old they are. If you happen to catch a 23 day old butterfly it probably will expire before you release it.
    How Many Should I Collect?
    We recommend at least 1 dozen butterflies. 2 or 3 dozen is better. By law you may not release more than 250 butterflies of one species at one event.
    Ants and Sunlight
    The two biggest dangers to your butterflies will be sunlight and ants. Always keep both in mind when you’re moving your butterflies. From the second you start collecting make sure you keep your butterflies out of direct sunlight and away from ants. Simply placing a box of butterflies on the ground near an ant nest or in direct sunlight can result in dead butterflies. I recommend placing your butterflies in the ice chest (more on that later) as soon as you catch them.
    Bug Spray and Frontline
    Another thing to be aware of is bug spray. Butterflies are bugs, and most forms of bug sprays will kill them. Don't spray anything in the same room as your butterflies, and don't place your butterflies in a room that you have used bug spray in within 2 weeks. Frontline deserves a special notice. If you use frontline on your pets, keep your butterflies at another house. Frontline will kill the butterflies even if your pets do not get near them.

    #2 Butterflies For Release

    Butterflies For Release
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      Posted 02 February 2009 - 06:54 PM

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Butterfly Release Supplies...

      1 Package Glassine Envelope w/ungummed flaps
      You will need one per butterfly. The envelopes should be roughly 3" X 2" with the flap on the long edge. As you catch butterflies you can slide them into these envelopes to protect them. You will probably need to order this online.
      1 Butterfly Net
      The butterfly net should have a handle that is about 2" - 3" long. The opening in the net should have about a 10" diameter. The net's "pouch" needs to be at least twice as deep as the diameter. Please read the "Catching Butterflies" article before buying your butterfly net. You will probably need to order this online.
      3 Cold Packs
      3 cold packs or 3 bags of frozen vegetables will work perfectly. Do not use ice. Ice melts and bags leak. If the butterfly's container touches water they will probably die.
      1 Small Box
      Any small box that is at least 3" deep and at least 4" on the longest side will work. A shoe box would work perfectly.
      1 Towel
      Any towel will work. This is to cover the cold packs so that moisture cannot reach the butterflies.
      1 Ice Chest
      The ice chest must have room for 2 ice packs covered by a towel and the small box. It's nice if the ice chest has a strap so that you can easily carry it with you when your netting butterflies.
      1 Release Container
      Directions for building a release container can be found later in this article.
      Release Container Supplies

      1 Ruler
      1 Pair of Scissors
      2 Packages Tissue Paper
      This the gift wrapping kind of tissue paper, not toilet tissue.
      1 Low Temp Hot Glue Gun
      Make sure it's the low temp version.
      1 Small Box
      It is very important that this box is the right size. You need to have a box that is at least 1" deep and between 3" and 4" square. If it is to big the butterflies might damage their wings, or slide out of place. Please read the "Building An Instant Butterfly Release Container" article before making this purcahse.
      Before we talk about how to build an instant butterfly release container, lets talk about if you even want to have one. When it's time to release your butterflies you have two main ways to do it. The first way is called a "Mass Butterfly Release". A mass butterfly release is when you have the butterflies in a release container, and have the bride and groom release them. The second way is called an "Individual Butterfly Release". This is when each butterfly is released by a different person. Both methods work well and are great ways to do a butterfly release.
      Mass Butterfly Release
      Focused on the bride and groom.
      Individual Butterfly Release
      Focused on the wedding.
      We recommend a mass butterfly release for weddings, and an individual butterfly release for other types of butterfly releases (memorial, educational, etc). This choice is all about personal preference, so choose the one that you would prefer.

      If you decide have an individual butterfly release, we recommend releasing the butterflies directly from the glassine envelopes. You can make other small containers for the butterflies to be released from, but make sure that anything you use fits tightly against the butterfly so that they can not move their wings. If the butterflies are able to move their wings they can damage them.

      Why do you call it an "Instant Butterfly Release Container"?
      We call this type of butterfly release container "instant" because when you pull the box open the trailing tissue paper will unfold tossing the butterflies into the air. Before we started using this release method we would have the butterflies in a box and when the lid was removed they would fly away. The problem with that type of butterfly release container is that some of the butterflies would almost always remain in the box. When you use the instant release method you can release all the butterflies at the same time, instead of when they decide to fly away.
      Before We Start ~ General Things To Know
      If you are going to be painting your butterfly release container, make sure you paint it at least 2 weeks before placing butterflies in it. Fresh paint may harm your butterflies.
      Some types of glue may harm your butterflies. Hot Glue is safe, but if you are using any other kind of glue we recommend waiting 2 weeks before placing butterflies in the container just to be safe.
      Each butterfly release container can hold a maximum of 4 butterflies per fold (see the section on placing butterflies the release container for more information). Make sure you have enough release boxes for the number of butterflies you plan on releasing.

      Before you make your butterfly release container take the time to decorate it. Please remember that if you are going to use any glue other than Hot Glue, or any paint we recommend waiting two weeks before placing butterflies in the release container.

      #3 Butterflies For Release

      Butterflies For Release
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      • 8 posts

        Posted 02 February 2009 - 06:54 PM

        Step 1
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Stack 4 sheets of tissue paper with the edges lined up. Then place the butterfly release container against the top left edge of the paper, and mark a line against the edge of the release box. Then do the same with the bottom left edge.
        Step 2
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Using a ruler or other straight edge connect the two lines.
        Step 3
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Use a knife or a pair of scissors cut along the line marked.
        Step 4
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Check and make sure the tissue paper fits snuggly against the edge of the release container. It is very important that the tissue paper fit tightly against the edge of the container. If you leave a gap the butterflies may slide into the crack. It's ok if the tissue is slightly folded along the edge.
        Step 5
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Glue the edges of your cut tissue paper end to end to form a ribbon about 2 to 3 foot long. To do this you first run a line of hot glue down the edge of one piece of the tissue paper.
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Then place the second piece of tissue paper on top of the first with about 1 inch of overlap. Then run you finger down the paper pressing the two pieces together.

        #4 Butterflies For Release

        Butterflies For Release
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        • 8 posts

          Posted 02 February 2009 - 06:55 PM

          Step 6
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Fill the container to about a 1/2 inch from the top with loosely packed tissue paper.
          Step 7
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Place the tissue paper in the box, filling edge to edge. You should not have gaps along the edges.
          Step 8
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Fold the tissue paper back from the edge, creating layers of tissue paper. Continue creating layer after layer till only have about 4 inches of tissue paper left.
          Step 9
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Using your Hot Glue attach the edge of the tissue paper to the top of the box.
          Step 10
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Put the top on the instant butterfly release container.
          Test Your Instant Butterfly Release Container
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Make sure everything is working by doing a practice run. Hold the bottom of the box in one hand, and the top of the box in your other hand. Then pull the top away from the bottom unfolding the tissue paper ribbon. Fold the tissue paper back into the box and your release container is ready for decorations. We will cover how to place butterflies in your butterfly release container later.

          #5 Butterflies For Release

          Butterflies For Release
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          • 8 posts

            Posted 02 February 2009 - 07:38 PM

            Finding Butterflies & Knowing your local laws
            You need information before you can start gathering butterflies for your butterfly release. The first thing you need to learn about are your local laws. If there is an endangered butterfly species in your area you need to know what it looks like so you can avoid it. You need to know where you can legally find and collect butterflies locally.

            Fortunately there are two groups that you can contact that are able to help you find butterflies. Both will know the local laws, and both groups tend to be friendly and helpful. The first is your local college's Entomology (study of insects) department. The second is any local lepidoptera (butterfly) clubs.
            How to catch a butterfly
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Take your butterfly net and swing it horizontally a few times. If you look at the net as you swing it you can see that the pouch forms a "cave". Near the end of your swing twist your wrist 45 degrees clockwise and you close the "cave". The reason you want to have a deep pouch is so that you are able to close the "cave" and still have lots of room for butterflies in the bottom of the net.

            When you are in the field and see a butterfly, walk slowly near it and wait for it to land. Then swing the net horizontally "skimming" the surface the butterfly has landed on. After near the end of the swing, just before you slow down, twist your wrist to close the net. Keeping the net closed carefully reach into the net and get the butterfly.
            How to hold a butterfly
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Butterflies do not have teeth or stingers, so you are in no danger of being hurt by a butterfly. The reason you don't want to just grab a butterfly is because you can hurt it, not because of any danger of it hurting you.

            Holding a butterfly without harming it is easy as long as you hold it correctly. A person can accidentally kill a butterfly by squeezing to hard, you can also rub the scales off the top of a butterflies wings with your fingers.

            To hold a butterfly without hurting it "pinch" the wings closed between two fingers. Holding the butterfly this way will protect the scales from being rubbed off by your fingers, and you can hold it tight without worrying about crushing it.
            Placing a butterfly in a glassine envelope
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Holding the butterflies wings pinched closed, slide your fingers into the glassine envelope. When you have the butterfly all the way in the envelope, release the butterfly and close the envelope. With some practice, this is easy to do.
            Going to collect butterflies
            Click the image to open in full size.
            Check the butterfly release supplies section for a list of the gear you should have.

            Before you leave, place an ice pack in the bottom of your ice chest and then cover the ice pack with a towel. Then place a small box on the towel. You will carry this with you when netting butterflies. After you catch a butterfly and place it in a glassine envelope, place the envelope in the ice chest. This will keep the butterflies cool while you collect more.

            Make sure you never place your butterflies on the ground unless you are watching them. This is because of ants. Keep a close eye on your ice chest when you are not carrying it.
            WARNING: Never leave butterflies in the car! Even in an ice chest they can quickly overheat and die!
            WARNING: Never let the glassine envelopes come into contact with water! This includes condensation on ice packs. Thats what the towel and box is for.

            #6 Butterflies For Release

            Butterflies For Release
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            • 8 posts

              Posted 02 February 2009 - 08:34 PM

              Placing Your Butterflies In Your Release Container

              Find out which fold to start at
              Click the image to open in full size.
              Before you start you need to know how much of the tissue paper will be pulled out when the butterflies are released on the release day. Have someone (preferably whoever will be doing the actual release) hold the bottom of the box in one hand, and the top of the box in the other hand. Then pull your hands far apart quickly unfolding the tissue paper.

              Spread your hands as far apart as you can comfortably reach. Then take the bottom of the tissue paper and fold one layer back into the release box. This fold is where you need to start placing your butterflies. Do not place them any deeper than this point so that you can get a full release with one pull.
              Place your butterflies in the release container
              Count and see how many folds have available. You need to stop one fold from the top of the release container. Now divide the number of butterflies you have by the number of available folds. This will let you know how many butterflies you need to place in each fold. For example, If you have 24 butterflies and 6 folds you will need to place 4 butterflies in each fold. (note: 4 is the maximum number of butterflies per fold.)
              Click the image to open in full size.
              Having an extra pair of hands is really helpful for this part. Take a butterfly out of it's glassine envelope and hold it flat against the inside edge of the bottom fold. If you are placing more than one butterfly per fold, then have your partner place the next butterfly on top of your butterfly while you release the butterfly you are holding. This way they are holding both in place and you can add another butterfly to the stack.
              Click the image to open in full size.
              Once you have filled the a fold, simply flip the tissue over and use it to hold the butterflies in place while you fill up the next fold. Once all folds are filled put the top on the box.
              Package your butterfly release container
              Click the image to open in full size.
              Now that you have your butterflies loaded into the butterfly release container, you need to package it for travel. To do this place an ice pack or two (depending on how big your ice chest is) in the bottom of the ice chest. Then cover it with one of the hand towels. Place your butterfly release container on the towel and close the ice chest.

              As the air in the ice chest cools the butterflies will go dormant and act like they are sleeping. One and a half to two hours before the release you need to remove them from the ice chest and let them warm up to room temperature.

              #7 Butterflies For Release

              Butterflies For Release
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              • 8 posts

                Posted 02 February 2009 - 08:34 PM

                What to expect at your butterfly release
                When planning a butterfly release, it's normally best to pick someone to be in charge of the butterflies. This person should make sure that the butterflies are kept cool till 1.5 - 2 hours before the release. Then they need to take the butterflies off the ice packs so that they can warm up to room temperature. You should not place the butterflies on a heating vent or in a window because they could overheat and that can kill them.
                If your doing a mass butterfly release...
                Once the butterflies are warmed up and it's time for the butterfly release take the butterflies to the person that will be doing the release. They need to hold the bottom of the release container in one hand and the top of the container in the other hand. They when everyone is ready for the release they quickly pull the top of the box away from the bottom of the box. This will toss the butterflies into the air!
                If your doing an individual butterfly release...
                Once the butterflies have warmed up take the glassine evnelopes to where the release is going to be. Next you will need to explain how to release butterflies from glassine envelopes and pass out a glassine envelope to everyone that will be releasing a butterfly. If someone is nervous about touching a butterfly it can help to remind them that butterflies are not able to hurt anyone because they do not have a mouth or any kind of stinger.

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