Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wings of Paradise FIRST SALES!!!

Wings of Paradise Mascot, Ageha

Hey guys!

My self-made little business Wings of Paradise just made its first sale! Just a little introduction, Wings of Paradise is a small business that I set up, my products; anything butterfly related of course! And these include butterfly prints, fairy post-cards, butterfly crafts etc. but the speciality, or "main-event" you could say, of Wings of Paradise is the butterfly-winged jewellery which are basically pendants and earrings made out of the wings of dead butterflies! Of course you might now say, as a butterfly lover how can I possibly go around killing butterflies to use their wings for jewellery. The answer is, I don't of course! I repeat, no butterflies were harmed, killed or injured in anyway in the construction of said jewellery and this is something which I constantly reassure my clients. The wings used in my jewellery line were all collected from dead butterflies, some that I find in the wild, others from parks, most from my own personal breeding collection. The butterflies that die of natural causes in my outdoor enclosure often suffer little or no wear and tear to their wings - being protected from predators, the elements and what not and therefore are perfect to use for my jewellery line. The butterfly wings are collected upon the natural death of the insect, clipped and then put into a large box where there are sorted. Perfect or undamaged wings are separated, from the mildly damaged ones but all overly torn wings are discarded. They are then carefully laminated in a clear and firm layer of plastic which ensures that the wings remain durable enough to be worn on a daily basis. If taken care of carefully, Wings of Paradise pendants will last for years on end!

As par my personal aims, Wings of Paradise is more than just a little means to keep some small cash in my pocket but also a way in which the beauty of butterflies and moths may be spread to the world. Along with each piece of jewellery purchased from me is a small placard with the basic information on the insect species that the customer will be wearing including the common name of the butterfly, its latin name, country of origin, food/host plants and a small little fun fact on the particular species. The price range varies from butterfly to butterfly depending on its species and, of course, rarity and can go from as low as RM8 a wing to RM40 (Morpho Menelaus) though selection of the products all depends on the stock I have at hand. Anyway, the three pendants I have sold thusfar:
Bluebottle Butterfly (Graphium Sarpedon)
forewing pendant (RM10 each)

Malay Lacewing (Cethosia Biblis) forewing and
hindwing Pendants (RM8.00 each)

**One interesting fact, I have found out that although the bodies of dead butterflies decompose like any other insects, their wings are a lot more durable. The box of unlaminated wings that I have stored thusfar for over a year are very much still in pristine condition - untouched by any parasitic pests or fungi!**

If you are interested or would like to enquire about anything, feel free to place your requests at I do not have a website up and running for this yet but I will probably set one up soon. Note, as I do not harm any living butterflies for this (nor do I hunt them in the wild) all pendant designs are subject to species availlability of whatever I am currently breeding. Thanks.

The Butterfly House pt. 1

A pair of Citrus Swallowtails in my Caterpillar

Hey guys,

Okay, second post in less than one hour! And although it may look like I post a whole lot often those of you who've read my other blog will probably know that I really don't update all that much unless there is something truly new and/or interesting to talk about. But just to get the preliminaries out of the way so I don't have to repeat myself again I would like to introduce you to my Butterfly House project. The Butterfly House project was designed as a breeding station for specific breeds of butterflies - usually those that took my particular fancy - to the effect that a sustainable butterfly population can be established within an area, in this case, my housing area. Of course there were many environmental concerns I took into consideration before beginning this project in earnest but after consulting with a fellow lepidopterist I decided to go ahead with the project under the condition that only locally found butterflies be bred (the consequences of inserting foreign butterflies into our local ecosystems could be potentially devastating). But of course the main challenge I faced was, how to procure the butterfiles and indeed how to keep them - without the need of a netting or enclosure of any sort - within a certain area. The answer, food plants of course! I learnt that butterflies, in the wild, often had to fly for miles in order to find the right foodplants for their larvae but also flowers with which to feed on. Provide enough of both in any certain area and the butterflies are almost quite certain to stay. I have always had a particular fondness for swallowtails and decided to begin with one of the easier and more common species - the Citrus Swallowtail (Papillio Demoleus)

Eventually, after setting up the right plants for the butterflies and their larvae to feed in, I was ready for my first go at breeding butterflies. Indeed within two weeks of introducing the various flowering shrubs, creepers and herbs, flocks of butterflies were already beginning to show their appreciation by flocking to the Garden in numbers. The first few that made their appearances were mostly Striped Albatrosses (Appias Libythea) and Peacock Pansies (Junonia Almana) of whom I am also particularly partial to. However, it wasn't long before my first pair of breeding Demolues' came by, attracted no doubt by the large concentration of citrus plants. To protect the larvae from predators (as I had to ensure that as many butterflies survived as possible for the first generation) I deftly scooped up the breeding pair in my trusty Elastic Insect Catcher Net and into the prototype of my caterpillar nursery, really a makeshift laundry bin as shown below.

The results were pretty promising. The Breeding Pair were released after the female had laid her eggs and though not all of them hatched (indeed I think some of the early hatchers ate their siblings!) those that did all turned into butterflies and were subsequently released thus establishing the first population of Citrus Swallowtails in the Garden. The first few months of establishing the wild Citrus Swallowtail population involved a lot of captive breeding and raising of the larvae to ensure that the butterfly numbers would remain fairly constant throughout. Below are some of the pictures from my first batch of caterpillars and butterflies 

Citrus Swallowtail larvae
Citrus Swallowtail chrysalis
 Next up, how the Common Mormon (P. Polytes) butterfly found its way into my collection.

Growing Up Creepy - pt.1 - Getting Started

at the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park

Hi there!

My name is Cyren Wong and I am from Kuala Lumpur - a buzy little town in the middle of Peninsular Malaysia that offers (what I think is) a good balance between the hustle and bustle of exciting City Life and just enough trees and greenery to retain that tropical-jungleish feeling that I for one wouldn't trade for the world. I am currently 21 going on 22 and besides writing promotional pamphlets for Tourism Malaysia I hope to, when I graduate from the Bachelor of Arts at Monash University, complete the Honours programme after which I will, hopefully a job teaching at a decent private/international school. (Note: use of sarcasm *I do not really write anything for Tourism Malaysia* ). I started this blog with a simple intention, that it may become a sort of collection of knowledge - or an electronic field journal if you may - on my journey through life as an amateur lepidoterist. For those of you who do not know this, a lepidopterist is someone who *quote wikipedia* catches and collects, studies, or simply observes lepidopterans, the term Lepidoptera being derived from Ancient Greek  λεπίδος (scale) and πτερόν (wing) referring to both butterflies and moths!

But indulge me for a second, why butterflies and moths, you might ask? Of all insects, animals or even wildlife to be interested in, why them? Well, aside from the obvious fact that the patterns of their wings (for me at least) comprise of some of the most wonderful and thought inspiring colours and motives in the natural world, for as long as I can remember, butterflies and moths have played a very significant role in my life. Growing up, some of my earliest memories are leafing through the citrus plants in my front garden with my father for chubby green catterpillars. But of course back then I hadn't known about things like the life-cycle of butterfleis and moths, it was more simply a case of my father methodically removing the caterpillars from his lime and orange plants and little-Me, trailing behind to pick up the "worms" from the floor and placing them into paper boxes for safe-keeping. I used to feed these "worms", grasses and leaves and everything I could find, and while the earlier batch did not survive I eventually realised that they only ate the leaves of teh plants from which they came? Eventually I had a collection of about 8 or 10 which, to my amazement one day became hard and brown. Not thinking anything of it, I left the now hard and brown worms in their boxes.

Of course any intelligent child can tell you these days that those "worms" were really caterpillars going through their pupal stage but I was but three and I didn't have any books or a tv back then so you will excuse me! Anyway a couple of weeks later I heard some rustling coming from within the box. Curious as always I opened it and to my amazement, 8 swallowtail butterflies of the common mormon species (P. Polytes) and thus began my fascination with butterflies and moths that would soon become a life-long passion and dream. These days I still raise caterpillars though, to mark some form of "advancement" from my kiddy days, I have replaced the paper boxes with a fairly large glass container and now breed butterflies as well to create sustainable butterfly populations in the still-green areas of KL. My goals as a lepidopterist, to gain as much knowledge I can and share that knowledge so that other may appreciate and partake in the beauty that is the butterfly and moth.
Trogonoptera Brookiana (Rajah Brooke's Birdwing) at the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park