Sonora Butterfly Refuge Restoration Project

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

The Creadora de las Mariposas Cuatro Espejos is a butterfly conservatory, education center and cultural resource in the Mayo pueblo of El Júpare, Huatabampo, Sonora. Read more about the Creadora de las Mariposas Cuatro Espejos.

Four Mirrors (Rothschildia Orizaba) butterflies are large, beautifully decorated nocturnal creatures that are indigenous to Central and Southern Mexico, Central America and South America. They belong to the family of Saturnids, some of the most visually appealing butterflies, and are in the Lepidoptera class, which includes insects and butterflies with scales.

The butterflies have ribbed and symmetrically decorated wings in brown and gold tones, and in each quadrant there is a smooth square that reflects light like a mirror, from which they derive their name.

In the wild, the larva of the Four Mirrors butterflies are threatened by insects like flies and spiders, who lay their eggs in the cocoon a caterpillar has constructed. The parasitic eggs then feed on the protein in the chrysalis, killing the butterfly.

In addition to providing safe habitat for Four Mirrors butterflies, the Creadora de las Mariposas Cuatro Espejos provides a valuable educational resource to local students for nature and cultural learning, as it is a direct connection to the history, traditions, religion and culture of the Yoreme Mayo – its abandoned cocoons are used to create leggings for traditional dancers, and an economic stimulus to artisans and others in this small Southern Sonora agricultural community.

In September of 2016, the butterfly refuge was breached and burglarized. Most of its cocoons were stolen, leaving the facility without the ability to host more butterflies, help propagate the species, provide educational programs or create Tenabaris or other works of art.

Although its physical structure is still in good condition, the Crearadero has not recovered from the theft and has fallen into disarray. Plants that once provided sustenance and shelter to the butterflies have withered and died, and others have become overgrown.

Funding for the original construction of the conservatory was provided by El Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (Conaculta), Mexico’s federal agency that funds the arts. However, there is no money available to fund the needed tasks to restore the conservatory to functionality, and there are no local resources available to fund such a project.

We believe that this butterfly sanctuary that is so important to the natural environment, religion, culture and economy of this community should be saved – restored and made functional again – and we hope that you do as well.

This campaign is to fund the first and largest phase of the restoration of the Crearadero de las Mariposas Cuatro Espejos butterfly conservatory, which will be accomplished in three phases.

Phase I

The first phase is to prepare the facility for the re-introduction of Rothschildia Orizaba butterflies, to include adding security structures to prevent future break-ins. This phase will be the most costly and labor-intensive of the project, and if we receive enough donations they may be sufficient to accomplish all three phases of the restoration.

It includes: consultation with a plant scientist to plan the restoration of the habitat and implement safeguards to prevent the entry of natural predators and hazards; clean the facility to remove dead plants, trim existing plants and add new plants; add an exterior perimeter security fence; and patch and repair holes in the exterior fabric.

Phase II

When the facility is ready, the second phase will be the reintroduction of the butterflies to the site by transplanting butterfly eggs.

Phase III

And the third phase is the full operation of the conservatory, to include maintenance and additional security. The goal is to make the facility self-sustaining at some point in the near future, but in the immediate time after the conservatory enters operational phase there will be a need for resources to fund services (maintenance, horticulturalist, security) and supplies.

We will report on the progress of the project, and if you have any questions or would like to contribute, please contact us.