Tatia Veltkamp, owner of Wings of Enchantment, looked over her growing butterflies as a trio of breeding monarchs fluttered around their mesh enclosure.
Wings of Enchantment is a butterfly farm in northeast Albuquerque that ships butterflies to consumers across the country. What once started out as a fun hobby 18 years ago, has grown into a business farming butterflies for the last nine years.
“When my kids were little, I read an article in a magazine about how to go find caterpillars and eggs, but I didn’t know what milkweed was, so we had to figure out what milkweed was first in order to go find them,” Veltkamp said.
Veltkamp has her hands in the entire process, from growing sustainable milkweed for monarchs to feed on, to processing and shipping off the fluttering creatures. Veltkamp makes sure that every butterfly is cared for and ethically farmed.
The production is made up of multiple rooms: two rooms for cultivating milkweed, a room for caterpillars to go through their cycle and develop into butterflies. A separate room is set aside for female butterflies to lay eggs. Another room stores the boxes that the critters are shipped out in.
Veltkamp said she receives gravid females, butterflies ready to lay eggs, and starts her production from there. Veltkamp currently has three types of butterflies available for release, painted lady butterflies, Gulf fritillary butterflies and monarch butterflies.
Veltkamp said that after release, she believes that the monarchs that she farms become part of the Eastern monarch population. Those butterflies undertake the incredible migration across generations from Central Mexico in winter to the northern United States and parts of Canada in summer.