Making Money with Butterflies

A close-up of a monarch butterfly
••• Gregory Adams/Moment Open/Getty Images

It may surprise you to learn that a butterfly business can be a very profitable endeavor. An article published in CNN Money mentioned that it was well within the realm of possibility to earn $50,000 to $100,000 annually raising butterflies. With consumers paying top dollar for the two most common commercially bred species (about $95 per dozen for Monarch butterflies and $80 per dozen for Painted Lady butterflies), it is easy to see how butterflies can bring in significant income with a relatively modest cost of production.

You don’t have to be an entomologist or a wildlife biologist to successfully begin a butterfly production business—with a little research and planning it is entirely possible to make a strong entry into this field. Those with previous insect experience (like beekeepers) may find that beneficial, especially if they have experience making money with bees through various revenue streams. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make money from a butterfly business:

Special Event Releases

Providing butterflies for release at weddings, funerals, graduations, birthday parties, and other important events has become a significant source of revenue for commercial breeders. Weddings represent a large share of this niche market, as butterfly releases have grown in popularity and replaced the tossing of rice at many celebrations. Another growing trend is releasing butterflies at community events (such as cancer walk fundraisers).


Zoos, museums, and nature centers purchase butterflies in various stages of development for display in their exhibits. The collections at these institutions are constantly in need of replenishment, so clients in this market often represent a steady source of income.


Primary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions commonly use butterflies as educational tools in science classes. They may purchase eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis, mature butterflies, or a combination of all these life cycle stages for classroom purposes. Colleges and universities may also require butterflies for use in research studies.

Butterfly Raising Kits

People love to see butterflies go through their life cycle, so butterfly raising kits are extremely popular as gift items for enthusiasts. Butterfly kits appeal to a wide audience (from small children to adults), so there will always be a market for this type of product. It is commonly stocked in the “gift shop” area of commercial butterfly farms.


Many artisans have started making earrings or pendants that incorporate preserved butterfly wings as a part of the design. A quick search on Etsy or Pinterest can yield hundreds of design possibilities in short order. Some pieces are quite pricey depending on the skill of the artist and the quality of the product’s materials.

Preserved Specimens

Preserved specimens can be sold to collectors, educators, and artists. As butterflies have a relatively short life cycle once they have reached maturity, the preserved specimen market is a way to draw a final profit from insects that have expired due to natural circumstances.

Population Restocking for Other Farmers and Hobbyists

Reselling to other commercial farmers or hobbyists is another way to profit from a butterfly business. Those who need to restock their population may purchase insects in a variety of life cycle stages (including eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis, or mature butterflies). New farmers or hobbyists might need to purchase a significant number of insects if they are starting from scratch.

Tours and Educational Events

Tours and educational events at a butterfly breeding facility can be a steady source of revenue. School groups are always looking for unique places for educational field trips. Tourists may want to visit to take pictures. New hobbyists may want to take classes to learn the ropes of butterfly production. Students might want to participate in internships to further their studies in a wildlife related or entomology related degree path. The owner of the butterfly facility could also consider traveling to host seminars in other areas upon request.