Restoring a Butterfly Conservatory and Community Resource

Nature, Culture, Education and Traditions in El Júpare, Sonora


Traditional musician and Mayo Pascola dancers wearing tenabaris
Four mirrors - cuatro espejos - butterfly. Photo © Trinidad Vazquez Yocupicio
Butterfly chrysalis. Photo © Trinidad Vazquez Yocupicio

Creadora de las Mariposas Cuatro Espejos

This butterfly refuge and conservatory, “creator of four-mirrors butterflies,” is an important community resource for the indigenous Mayo residents of El Júpare, Huatabampo, Sonora, Mexico.

Inside the inactive butterfly conservatory
Butterfly cocoons used to make the tenabari leggings worn by traditional dancers
Beautiful caterpillar of the cuatro espejos butterfly. Photo © Trinidad Vazquez Yocupicio

The Creadora de las Mariposas Cuatro Espejos (creator of four mirrors butterflies) is a unique place in the Mayo pueblo of El Jupare, Sonora where butterflies thrive in a protected environment. It is a special nature refuge that helps to preserve nature and local customs while it provides an educational, cultural and economic resource for the community.

The four mirrors (Rothschildia Orizaba) are nocturnal butterflies that belong to the family of Saturnids, and the Lepidoptera order of butterflies with scales. Each butterfly has four distinct, smooth transparent squares that reflect light at different angles, giving them the appearance of having four small mirrors.

Unfortunately, in September of 2016 thieves ripped the special overlay material of the butterfly enclosure and stole its collection of cocoons. As a result, the lepidopterarium has not been functional, depriving local residents of the positive benefits they had received from the enclosure, and destroying a sanctuary where this beautiful and unique species of butterflies can survive.

A local group is working to restore the structure and add new inhabitants. It is a project that will also include building protective barriers and hiring a night watchman, in addition to restoring the functionality of the enclosure. Read more about the project.

The positive benefits of restoring this butterfly conservatory include:

Providing a sanctuary for these unique, beautiful butterflies, so they can propagate and live in a safe, controlled environment.

It serves as a center of nature and cultural education for local school students and university researchers. Children learn by observing the butterfly life cycle, from egg to caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly. They also grow awareness of the connection of these creatures with their own culture and heritage – the abandoned cocoons of the cuatro espejos butterflies are used to make the rattles worn as leggings by ceremonial dancers.

The sanctuary is also a local attraction for tourists, who can see and photograph the butterflies at various stages of development, and purchase products made by local artisans.

The butterflies have a very short lifespan, and after they die a natural death, the butterflies are used to create art and crafts. We are also researching opportunities to package and ship the butterflies for sale to distributors of natural sciences specimens.

And if you have any questions or would like to learn more about this project, please contact us.

Tenabaris, leg rattles made from the cocoons of butterflies and worn by traditional Sonoran dancers
The butterfly conservatory in El Jupare, Sonora, Mexico