One industry that’s adding jobs? Butterfly farming.
“It’s an exploding industry and there are just not enough butterflies out there,” she said. Everywhere from big institutions like New York City’s Natural History Museum and the Bronx Zoo to elementary schools want to buy caterpillars, chrysalises and butterflies.
The Euchee Butterfly Farm raises about 20,000 butterflies a year, but that’s still not enough to keep up with demand. So it imports another 20,000, mostly from Costa Rica, to make up the difference.
A single butterfly can cost anywhere from 75 cents to $7 on the wholesale market, depending on the time of year and species.
Breckinridge hopes to expand Euchee’s operations with help from a $500,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture, which aims to create jobs. The funds will be used to train Native American members of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town to raise butterflies of their own to sell to the Euchee farm.
The money in butterfly farming certainly isn’t equivalent to a full time job at first. Tribe members can expect make between $400 and $500 a month from about March through October, Breckinridge said. She hopes to get 100 members of the tribe up and running within a year.
Any chance to earn some income will be welcome in the area, a county where unemployment is higher than the rest of the state, said Brian Wiles, a director at the USDA’s rural development office in Oklahoma.
For now, the Euchee farm will handle operations on the sales end because, logistically, it’s a tricky business.