Introduction to Bart Coppens
Welcome to my website! This page is about my favorite subject – me! Allow me to introduce myself – lately I’ve been recieving a lot of questions, which is why I decided to add some information about myself on this website aswell.
ME IN OTHER MEDIA:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – this may take a few days, sorry, I don’t read my mail that often, but I’m open to it! I also get tons of messages every day.
Facebook: Click here – Send me an inbox message – disclaimer, I get tons of messages every day and some slip past my attention or Facebook puts them in the spam box. Once again my apologies, but there is a small chance I won’t see it. I try my best to answer them all!
And my username on Actias is “Bartmantis”.
My name is Bart Coppens from the Netherlands. I was born on 14 June, 1993. How old does that make me? I guess you’ll have to calculate that using my birth date – because I constantly forget to update my current age on this page. Even since I was a small child I’ve had a major fascination for insects. From ages 7 and beyond I used to capture caterpillars of native species and rear them to adults. From ages 16 and beyond I have been intensively breeding exotic species – all kinds of insects really, from stick insects to mantids to katydids and more – after discovering you can order them online.
My specialisation in moths came at a later age, when I was about 18 years old. I used to breed a lot of stick insects, mantids, and other creatures. But gradually I started replacing them with moths. They have always fascinated me the most. When I was about 21 years old, I was exclusively breeding moth species. As time goes by, I became more and more of a specialist instead of a generalist. Currently I love all kinds of moths, but my favorite are Saturniidae silkmoths, and to a lesser extent I also study Arctiinae (tiger moths), Lasiocampidae (lappet moths), Sphingidae (hawkmoth), and in rare cases Brahmaeidae, Megalopygidae, Epicopeiidae, Lymantriidae, Eupterotiidae. At the end of the day however, I’m willing to breed or look into most if not all obscure or unusual moths.
I started this website in 2015 when I was 21 years old, but it was more of a low quality hobby project. As time went by I started getting more and more readership, and am starting to take it more and more seriously. Currently I aim to improve the old content that I had written when I was a bit younger and more inexperienced, because I don’t want to associate myself with low effort caresheets, but breeding them and taking pictures takes time. When I became 23 years old I started decicating myself to a few families of moths I favoured such as Saturniidae mainly – but also a few others.
I consider myself a hobbyist and not really a professional entomologist. Despite that, I have been able to discover and describe a few things that were new to science, just by breeding moths, and I’m proud of this. My goal is to produce as much knowledge as possible about these insects as I’m capable of before I die, so this may help us understand their ecology in order to preserve them.
In peak years I have been breeding over 40 species of moths per year. If I can keep up with this level of intensive breeding in the future as I start to become more mature and independent and life gets in the way will be uncertain; but I am enjoying the ride as it is. Perhaps when I have finished breeding all the common species I have more time to settle down, take it slowly and finally put more time and effort in the difficult and rare ones.
There is still a huge amount of species I have bred and have not written a caresheet about, but I am working on this.
1. Where do you get your livestock?
On the internet multiple communities and distributors can be found. One particulary useful website is www.actias.de which has an international marketplace on which multiple species are offered per day. Other than that commercial webstores can be found online, like http://www.wwb.co.uk/ (world wide butterflies). Making friends with hobbyists is also an important point – for they may have eggs for sale! In many cases, I am also able to get eggs and cocoons of species that are not for sale to the ‘general public’ or breeding community. This may be evident because of some of the unusual species that I’ve written caresheets of. The reason for that is because I also know people who collect them for me, directly from the wild. In some cases I have even obtained permits to import wildlife for my research. A lot of my insects come from private sources – they are collectors that hunt the species I want to breed, but sometimes also family and friends who find them during a nice vacation in the tropics, and can not be obtained by other means because other hobbyists or commercial breeding facilities do not breed them. If you are truly interested, I made a video explaining where I buy all my insects (click here).
2. What do you do with dead specimens?
Since there is demand for my dead lepidopterans, I usually sell or trade them to collectors. Since I prefer to breed live insects I don’t have need for the dead ones – however one downside of breeding is that you will need to keep them alive, and as butterflies and moths age their wings will tear. So I rarely have good quality specimens since most of them die of old age. I rarely kill my personal breeding stock of butterflies and moths on purpose to preserve them, unless they are exceptionally rare or valuable. Not because I don’t support collecting; in fact I am a volunteer in multiple scientific museum collections – but because my expertise is to study them alive. For interested collectors I do however breed and paper specimens on demand – these can be ordered via my store section. However, please do keep in mind that this method will generally be more expensive and time consuming than it is to order wild captured specimens.
3. Is it an expensive hobby?
It is as expensive as you allow it to be. Some very commonly bred species are very easy and cheap. Like the Samia ricini (eri silkmoth) or Arctia caja (garden tiger moth) and many of the common native cabbage whites (Pieris sp.) are commonly offered at low prices and very easy to breed and don’t need a lot of equipment. Sometimes these species are even offered for free! And they can be easily reared and bred in plastic containers or net cages.
The price range will exponentially increase with the rarity and difficulty of the species you aim to rear. For example the Graellsia isabellae (Stained glass moth) or Argema mittrei (Comet moth) are examples of species that are a bit more on the expensive side. The most expensive are species that are rare to obtain, endemics or protected by CITES, for which prices may range to over 10 to 20 euro per pupa!
And.. wait a second? Why are we discussing buying livestock at all? Insects are freely available in nearly any part of the world. In fact, you can breed butterflies and moths for free – completely – if you know how to locate the most interesting species native to your country in the wild! In fact, buying exotic species may be totally illegal and banned in your country, especially if you live in the tropics (and perhaps rightfully so). But fear not, you too can contribute a lot of knowledge by studying and breeding native insects!
4. Do you release captive insects?
No no no no no! A BIG no. I keep non-native (exotic) species, releasing them would be highly irresponsible. Even if I breed native species, releasing them could still have a negative impact on the wild population for captive insects may carry negative/unfavorable traits that would have been removed due to natural selection in the wild. I’ve been asked this question more times than I’m comfortable with: despite their pretty colours, exotic species are not welcome in our ecosystem. They can do serious damage to native wildlife. If you want to help sustain the populations of butterflies and moths in the wild, the best course of action would be to help spread their host plants! Plant host and nectar plants in your garden. They are beneficial to the species, whereas releasing captive insects could have a negative impact. These insects are not toys to release for your personal enjoyment; releasing captive bred butterflies and moths has real and serious consequences on your local environment. Never attempt any introduction projects by your self. If you are interested in knowing why then please read this article!
5. Do you sell livestock?
Yes and no. I don’t like selling because I have too many followers on social media (because of my Youtube, my website, Facebook etc.) that often ask me for eggs. And sometimes when I have a rare species, I get so many messages asking for eggs that is giving me a lot of stress, especially when I fail to breed them and have to dissapoint people. This ruins the fun of my hobby for me. Even when I have eggs it is often impossible to help everybody since there are not enough, and then I have dissapoint some of my friends. But I do trade species, behind the scenes – I often trade eggs or cocoons for other species that are interesting. Sometimes I do sell – but when I do, I usually place offers on the marketplace on the sales forums of breeding communities. So I recommend taking a look there. I prefer to trade behind the scenes against other species. Please know that I am not much of a commercial breeder, and that there is always a very high demand for my eggs, since I have a very large following on social media due to my website, my YouTube channel, my research and various social media. Please do not rely on me to sell you eggs of a certain species if you need them.
6. Can you help me obtain X and Y species featured on your website?
Probably not. First of all, I do not continuously breed all the species featured on my website – they are breeding reports written at the time that I did breed them, which may be currently, or many years ago. Chances are I am not conveniently breeding the species you are currently looking for. Secondly, as per question #5 here in this FAQ, I am reluctant with selling livestock, and prefer to trade it behind the scenes with a few good contacts. Unfortunately, the pressure of delivering people eggs has taken the fun out of my hobby in the past. Having close friends beg you for eggs or pressure you into sending them is a bad experience, and makes me feel extra bad if I fail to breed a rare species and have to dissapoint people that wanted to have eggs from them. I also have a succesful Youtube channel and a lot of readers from this website that request eggs, something that I can not deliver 99.99% of the time.
A. About this website – Click here to read about the intents and purposes of this website. That information really needs an individual page of its own.
B. About me as a person: what kind of person am I? I am a lover of nature and biology, and have always gravitated towards these subjects. I believe that life in general is very fascinating and I have an urge to understand how it works; all strange organisms, from a jellyfish to a strange plant, recieve my interest. I have always been very fascinated with my surroudings. From time and space to the natural world it seems that I been born with a deeply ingrained fascination for all things that make up the fabric of our reality. While I like all lifeforms, I also believe that one should specialise themselves in a certain group of organisms in order to really make a difference; because of the incredible biodiversity on this planet, it is really impossible gather enough information to study all of them in one lifetime. In fact, one or a few families of Lepidoptera are already enough to struggle with for a lifetime.
I am generally a rather cynical person, although perhaps paradoxally, I often have an optimistic attitude and outlook on life. I think those two traits are not mutually exclusive. My other interests are peculair; some of them include learning new languages – for example I am currently interested in learning Russian language. I am also interested in subjects such as time and space, biology as a whole, and cryptocurrencies. Lately I have been wanting to publish more content too in the forms of videos, websites and books – even though they are about insects again, the writing and creating aspect can also be considered a seperate hobby. I also like movies, a few favorites are Nightcrawler, A Clockwork Orange, Grave of the Fireflies, Blade runner 2049, Lullaby to the big sleep, Borgman and Lord of the Rings. I also like the movies of Lynch and Jodorowsky generally.
What I’m about to say next will sound very pretentious. But I’m not very great at smalltalk and having conversations that don’t carry a lot of thought or information. Ask me about things like origins of the universe or biology however, and you’ll probably recieve long winded responses. I find it very hard to talk about things like Netflix series, the weather or what you did at work. I understand this may come across as pseudo-intellectualism but it is seriously one of my character flaws, being unable to hold light/unimportant conversations. It is hard to put this problem into words without sounding like an unlikeable snob however, and I do not look down upon people that do talk about personal things – in fact they are an important part of life for everyone that has to maintain social relationships, no matter your intelligence!
English is not my native language – I am from the Netherlands. This website may therefore contain some language errors; correction is much appreciated.
C. About my hobby: All I can say is that since a very young age, I have been extremely obsessed with insects. I have been raising butterflies and moths since my very childhood. While this all sounds very inspiring, the truth is that the relationship between me and insects has always been a strange one. I will freely admit though, I do have a obsessive/autistic tendencies in regards to this hobby. I guess I’m wired that way. I’m often very consumed by very specific subjects or interests, sometimes in even in an unhealthy way. Usually they are impulsive interests that dissapear over time but moths and insects have been there all my life. There have been times that my hobby has negatively impacted my personal life. There have been times that my hobby has gotten in the way of friendships, studies, careers and relationships, since I prioritize it over these things. But I regret it? No, I personally do not. And I did not write this here because I feel like I have to justify it; I do it, so you can understand who I am. My hobby is a double-edged blade, that has given me an ultimate purpose to live for since I was a mere child, and immeasurable enjoyment. It has given me attainable dreams, because for me to be happy, I don’t need a ferrari, fame or a villa – all I truly need is to be able to study the most beautiful and fascinating species of moths. It has however also crippled my life and my personal development in many regards, since it my interest in them can grow to obsessive proportions at times. Luckily for me, I am not the only one!
Succes! A part of my succes is because I have always been one of the younger hobbyists that was very active in the hobby communities and forums and in the entomological world. Since I was 18 years old I have been intensively documenting my hobby projects and research online on various forms of social media including YouTube, Facebook, several insect hobbyist forums and more. However, as I am gradually growing older and becoming more mature and not really able to call myself that young anymore, I am able to take advantage of the fact that I have built up a reasonably big audience since a very young age. This is a great advantage when it comes to readership on a website, followers on youtube or interest in my books and publications; it seems that whatever I crazy idea I come up with next, be it a new website or a new paper or a new book – there are always people out there willing to view/read it. From the very start of my ‘career’ I have been supported by a great community of contacts, friends and followers.
Hopefully this website has gained your interest! Invertebrates need more respect as pets, many people underestimate their importance, beauty and diversity.
And now for some selfies througout the years.. from young to old.
The point of this gallery is to, hopefully, show you my progress and aging over the years! *scroll down to see the ultimate weirdo behind the scenes here*
Dear reader – thank you very much for visiting! Your readership is appreciated. Are you perhaps…..
- Not done browsing yet? Then click here to return to the homepage.
- Looking for a specific species? Then click here to see the full species list.
- Looking for general (breeding)guides and information? Then click here to see the general information.
- Interested in a certain family? Then click here to see all featured Lepidoptera families.
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