Allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Bart Coppens; a well known (amateur) entomologist from the Netherlands. While I do many things with insects, it’s quite difficult for me to summarize all of it comprehensively. Why? Because it simply includes a great diversity of things. While the things I do are diverse, they all have one thing in common: all my activities revolve around insects and in particular butterflies and moths, somehow.
The things I do include social media, scientific research, to keeping insects as pets, to writing (this website!) about insects, documentation in the form of photography, working in insect collections, working in butterfly farms, working in natural reserves and more.
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.
1. Where do you get your livestock?
A few websites available on the internet make it very easy to order eggs and cocoons. One example is the marketplace of insectnet (click here). More examples could be Time to Breed (highly recommended!) The most important website is www.actias.de (click here). This is where I get most of my species; but you need to make an account that is approved and about 3 days old before you can see and read the marketplace. Actias.de is the largest community on the internet in regards to selling and trading Lepidoptera eggs and cocoons. Last but not least, I get eggs of unique species from private contacts. Having friends in the entomological word has advantages; and some of them will collect eggs for me of species that are not available in the hobby to other people. Since these people are personal friends of mine that do me favors and are not interested in being commercial egg hunters, I am protective of them and not always willing to say who the person is that sent me eggs of species X or Y; next to the fact there could be resource competition if we both want eggs from the same person that traps moths.
For people in Europe and the United States, ordering coocons and eggs online is relatively easy if you understand the internet. If you live somewhere else, you may be out of luck. But for a good reason. I do not recommend importing exotic insects to tropical countries. If you live, for example, in Brazil, Indonesia or India, please take the idea of importing non-native species out of your mind, since it is a gigantic environmental risk. In the Nearctic and Palearctic world, the winters prevent the survival of many exotic species that could otherwise be invasive. What if you live in such a place and also want to breed moths? The good news is that the biodiversity in your country is high. Breed native species instead; invest in a good net and a moth trap. There is a lot to discover; more than I can buy online. Do not ever take non-native insects to tropical Asia, South or Central America, or Africa!
Another very good way to get livestock is moth trapping. Native, local species are in their perfect environment and a good way to practice; and you may attract females that lay hundreds of eggs for you. It is also worth looking for eggs and caterpillars of species in the wild.
2. What do you do with dead specimens?
I throw most of them in the trash. This may be painful to read to some collectors, but know that I am a breeder, not a collector. They don’t have any commercial value, because I keep the moths alive until the bitter end and they die from ‘old age’ (most moths don’t live very long). When moths fly, their wings damage; the perfect specimens you see for sale online are killed for the purpose of collection. I have no ethical problems with killing moths at all; it’s just that my hobby is breeding live specimens, and killing them takes away from this experience, like a cook eating his own ingredients before the meal is finished. Some of the species featured on this website are quite valueable. I’ve bred Antheraea godmani, Actias rhodopneuma and niedhoeferi for example; fresh females in perfect condition bring up a few hundred dollars per moth. But who cares, I much prefer to see their interesting life cycles – something that is seriously understudied. Every moth I kill, is one less chance to have a pairing. And I want to breed.
Despite that, in some cases I have been hired by museums and taxidermy shops to breed moths for the specific purpose of killing them afterwards. Since I consider this a job and not my hobby, I have done it before; usually I can produce a bunch of common species for about 15$ per specimen, sometimes in high numbers. I don’t find it as enjoyable as my hobby though. I’m not very interested in selling ‘spare’ specimens of the cool species you just saw me post online though.
3. Is it an expensive hobby?
It is as expensive as you want it to be. Unless you live in Antarctica, butterflies and moths can be probably be found around you, for free. If you are skilled at finding and hunting them, this hobby will cost you nothing. If you live in the big city this may be more difficult to do, but then again, even if you buy insects online you may not be in the right place for this hobby if you have little nature around you, since you will struggle to find food plants and the required space.
However, other breeders also produce a lot of eggs and cocoons that you can buy or trade online. 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 are very easy to breed. Cocoons of some common and beautiful species (Actias luna, Saturnia pyri) can be found for only a few dollars per cocoon.
Sometimes, kind breeders will even share eggs and cocoons of common and easy beginner species for free, to promote interest in these animals! While you should not count for this to happen, keeping an eye out and making friends with people helps a lot.
This hobby however, also has an expensive side to it. The more rare and legendary species come with a heavy price tag. Very rare and precious species like birdwings (Ornithoptera), celestial moon moth (Actias chapae), Eochroa trimeni, spanish moon moth (Graellsia isabellae), Polythysana cinerascens and others have been sold for prices up to 10$ per individual egg or more, cocoons costing up to 50$ each. This is your personal choice however, and nobody is forcing you to buy anything you can’t afford.
What’s also expensive is that moths have short lifespans, and often high mortality rates. It’s not uncommon to buy eggs online, only to have the caterpillars die a few days afterwards. Some species are hard to raise too. Last but not least, you are paying a lot of money to breed an insect that only has a lifespan of about 10 days! Compare this to the stick insect, mantis, beetle or tarantula hobby where the animals have the potential lifespans of multiple years. But if you want to keep breeding moths, you will have to keep buying them at some point. Breeding them is also not very sustainable, and it is not uncommon for species to only last 2-3 generations in captivity with a lot of luck, only to die out in the hobby until more are imported from the wild again.
Compared to other insects, breeding moths and butterflies is also very time consuming; caterpillars require fresh plants and their food has to be replaced every 2 to 4 days, and their container has to be cleaned. While this doesn’t require you to pay anything, time is money, and breeding a lot of moths will compete with your job and studies and drain a lot of the free time you have available. Moths and butterflies specialise in different food plants, and each species has a preference for different plants. If you want to breed many of them, at some point you will also need to grow and obtain host plants, enclosures, breeding sleeves, containers, cages and other equipment.
So how expensive is it? Almost free, or very expensive. Much like the cooking enthousiast that may decide to fry an egg, or a prepare a waygu beef steak. When using locally available species and food plants, the hobby is more or less free. However, breeding a high diversity of moths including rare and precious species, can cost a fortune. I myself, have certainly spent thousands of dollars a year on moths in some busy years. Please keep in mind that while this sounds impressive, this hobby is about the statisfaction you get from it, not the amount of money you spend on it. Thankfully, the hobby community is really, really friendly and relaxed, and there seems to be almost no egoism or elitism involved. As opposed to other hobbies I’ve been in – such as reptiles, spiders, mantids – that seem to be about breeding the rarest and most expensive animals, the moth and butterfly community seem to attract more gentle and friendly naturalists.
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 disappoint 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 disappoint 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. If you want an elaborate answer, check this video
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 disappoint 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.
Email: email@example.com – 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.
ME IN OTHER MEDIA:
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Thank you for reading my article. This is the end of this page. Below you will find some useful links to help you navigate my website better or help you find more information that you need about moths and butterflies.
Dear reader – thank you very much for visiting! Your readership is much appreciated. Are you perhaps…. (see below)
- Not done browsing yet? Then click here to return to the homepage (HOMEPAGE)
- Looking for a specific species? Then click here to see the full species list (FULL SPECIES LIST)
- Looking for general (breeding)guides and information? Then click here to see the general information (GENERAL INFORMATION)
- Interested in a certain family? Then click here to see all featured Lepidoptera families (FAMILIES)
Citations: Coppens, B. (2019); Written by Bart Coppens; based on a real life breeding experience [for citations in literature and publications]
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All the funds I raise online will be invested in the website; in the form of new caresheets, but also rewriting and updating the old caresheets (some are scheduled to be rewritten), my educational websites, Youtube, breeding projects, the study of moths andconservation programs.
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5 thoughts on “About Bart Coppens / Who is Bart Coppens?”
You have a very cool hobby, Bart. Thanks for sharing it!
Keep up the good work !!
I was the same age when I started. I’m 65 now! Finally raising hickory horned devils. I told you already. I have a pic of what I believe is a tiny Sphinx moth I took this morning. Never seen it before!
How do I get it to you? Thanks, Dave Hendricks
Thanks for sharing your hobby, I am new to this and have found it invaluable. I am rearing deathshead hawk moths. Will the adults drink sugar solution or does it have to be honey?
Dank u wel
Your efforts and your willingness to share your knowledge are greatly appreciated!