FAQ

1.   How does collecting butterflies save the rainforest? Am I endangering butterflies by collecting them?

All of our butterflies have been inspected and cleared by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service upon being imported into the U.S. There are framed butterfly sellers who illegally import and export specimens that haven't been cleared with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, don't buy from them!  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is a completely separate entity from "customs" and they require that ALL organisms, dead or alive, be cleared before entering or leaving the U.S. Click here for more info on permits and such.

Our butterflies come from butterfly farms & ranching projects from all over the world (mainly South America, Africa and South East Asia). These farms provide the natives of the countries with an excellent source of income and prevent them from destroying the rainforest to clear land for cattle raising, logging etc. Eggs laid on leaves in the wild rainforests are collected and hatched in the farms. In the wild, only a very small percentage (about 5%) of butterfly eggs survive to adulthood. Butterfly farms have much higher survival rates, approximately 80%. Habitat protection is also important because butterfly caterpillars will only eat certain plants from their habitat, so these plants are also collected. Most of the less colorful female butterflies hatched on farms are released into the wild to lay more eggs in a rainforest that would have been destroyed years ago if not for the protection of the farms. So collecting butterflies actually saves butterflies & the rainforest! For example, the island of Madagascar (off the coast of Africa) is a unique home to many magnificent species including the huge Comet moth and popular Sunset Moth. Butterfly exporting is a valuable commodity to Madagascar. Without that income, butterfly habitats could possibly be forever destroyed to make room for cattle raising, buildings etc. If you wipe out that habitat hundreds of butterfly species will become extinct overnight. So the more Madagascar native butterflies purchased, the more valuable their habitat becomes.

None of our butterflies are endangered or illegal to own. Butterflies can be "rare" to collectors but not endangered. Some tropical butterflies only come from one small area and can only be obtained from a single butterfly farm, while others are available from numerous farms. Unless noted otherwise, all of the butterflies on our site are males. Here's a direct quote from an email we recently received: "I work for a small NGO in Ecuador, Fundacion NYTUA. We are currently investigating the possibility of beginning small butterfly ranching operations in some of the local villages as an alternative source of income, hopefully preventing the current reliance on income from felling areas of forest."

      • ProNaturalezas butterfly conservation program - This organization seeks to prevent habitat destruction in Peru (a country with 3700 species of butterflies) by promoting the farming and ranching of butterflies. Lots of good info at this site. Volunteers & donations needed!:

         

 
Click the button above to visit TheRainforestSite.com.
At the site, hit the same "Save our Rainforests, Click here" button on their page 
and advertisers will donate money on your behalf to help save the rainforest!

2. How long will it take to ship my item and how do you ship? Do you offer express shipping? What are the normal shipping rates? 

Many items are prebuilt and can ship out right away, other might take a few days or even a few weeks depending on how busy we are.  If you need an item quickly, please check our Ready To Ship page or let us know in the comment section when ordering or call us.  

Most items ship USPS first class or priority mail and arrive in 2-5 days after shipment.  Some larger items and orders will ship UPS and arrive in 1-6 days after shipment.

If you need express shipping please contact us. 

Shipping Fees: Shipping & handling costs are a flat fee of $5.99, no matter how many items you order (Hawaii and Alaska residents have to pay actual shipping fees, contact us for an estimate if you want, small orders like one or two riker mounts probably won't cost extra, larger orders might cost $5 - $10 more.). You may also choose the "Regular w/ signature" for an extra $3 (total of $8.99) which requires a signiture to deliver the package. Items that ship via USPS can also require signature confimation. Requiring a signature will protect you from someone swiping your package off your doorstep (probably a very rare occurrence, especially depending on your neighborhood), however it will require someone to be there to sign for the package which can be a pain and might delay actual delivery. 

Sales Tax is charged to NC shipping addresses only, as we are located in NC.

What if the shipment arrives damaged? We use an enormous amount of packing peanuts and bubble wrap combined with roomy boxes so damage during shipment is extremely rare. If your package does arrive damaged, contact us immediately and we will replace the item for no additional charge. We pay for your shipping expenses if your package arrives damaged and needs to be returned to us.

3.   What's your return policy?

If you are unhappy with your product or it arrives damaged you may return it within 30 days for a full refund or exchange. Please contact us before returning a product to let us know what the problem was. If you think you might have to return the item, save all of the packing material as the package should be returned in the same manner it was shipped. If an item is damaged during the return shipment due to poor protection then we can't accept it, if you package it the way it came it should be fine. If you accidently threw out the packing materials you can bring the display to a local UPS store and have them carefully package it for you.

Extensions to the refund policy period will be granted from Oct. 1st until Dec. 31st. for early holiday shoppers. For example, if you buy an item for a Christmas gift after Oct. 1st, open it upon arrival to make sure it meets your approval. If it meets your approval, wrap it back up in the protective bubble wrap for safe keeping and keep the shipping & packing materials. If the recipient doesn't like it you may then exchange or return the item, contact us first though.

3a. What about returning custom orders?

We've never had anyone return a custom order, however we feel it would be a good idea to outline our return policy for custom orders. If a custom order arrives damaged it will be replaced for no additional charge. If you get "buyer's remorse" we can still accept the product for return however we usually will not be able to refund you the full amount, we might only be able to refund a % of the total price. Selling exclusively on the internet means that in order for us to resell a custom order we have to go through the trouble of taking pictures of the display and placing it on the website which can be quite time consuming. Plus since it's custom there's the potential that it might not be something that other customers would be interested in and we might have to sell it at a discount. 

Again, we've created hundreds of custom orders and never had a return so it's very unlikely that there would be a problem. For complex custom orders we usually send digital photos of the display before gluing the butterflies so you can approve of the layout or request that it be tweaked to your desire.

4.   Can I have my item gift wrapped and sent directly to someone else?

We don't currently gift wrap, however the butterflies are surrounded by layers of bubble wrap so they still get to "unwrap" the gift. If you want us to send a gift directly to someone you can enter an additional shipping address when you checkout. Feel free to include a personal message to the recipient (using the comment box during checkout) that we will include with your order on gift note paper. We never include the invoice when the "ship to" name doesn't match the billing name and the only invoice you will receive is the one you receive via email when you place your order. None of our products have prices on them.

5.   Do you do custom orders?

Yes, there are some custom options on the website already. If they don't suit what you're looking for you may contact us. We can build a display with any combination of butterflies that you desire. We can also place special orders for you if you have a specific sized case in mind or if you are looking for a butterfly that isn't on the site. For complex custom orders we usually send digital photos of the display before gluing the butterflies so you can approve of the layout or request that it be tweaked to your desire. We can also incorporate other items into our 3D displays, such as a business card or logo for corporate gifts.

6.   How long will the butterfly art last?

Longer than you. If cared for properly, your butterflies can last for hundreds of years. Our acrylic cases are sealed airtight providing the best preservation environment and all butterflies are reinforced to greatly increase durablity. Our Riker framed displays aren't airtight but will still last a very long time. Keep your displays out of direct sunlight though, as their colors may fade. And of course, be sure not to ever drop your displays, handle them with great care. All of our specimens are treated to kill parasites (that can lay dormant for years).

7.   My credit card is being denied by the shopping cart system?

The most common problem is that the billing address you're entering in doesn't match the credit card company's records. Be sure to enter the billing info that matches your credit card company's records and then use a different address for shipping if necessary. Nothing is ever mailed to your billing address, the invoice is emailed to you and included with the shipment (unless the shipping name is different, then we assume it's a gift). If you're still having problems please contact us, sometimes computer problems on your end can prevent proper approval. 

8.   How do I clean my acrylic cases?

Mild soap and warm water with a soft cloth (no paper towels) works just fine, or you can purchase a product designed for cleaning acrylic such as Novus or Brillianize. Do NOT use alcohol or ammonia based glass cleaning products like Windex, regular use will ruin the cases. ButterflyUtopia.com is not responsible for damage done to the acrylic cases by improper cleaning.

9.   What's the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

Although from the same insect family (Lepidoptera), there are a few differences. Butterflies are generally more colorful than moths and have long, thin antennas while moths have short, feathery antennas. Butterflies usually fly by day, while moths are generally seen at nighttime. A butterfly caterpillar produces a shiny chrysalis that hangs, while a moth caterpillar produces a silky cocoon found on the ground. Butterflies rest with their wings closed, moths with their wings open.

10.   Are there any permits required to buy butterflies? Do you ship outside the U.S.?

Unfortunately due to strict rules and regulations we do not ship outside of the U.S. at this time.

If you live in the United States you can freely purchase butterflies from us with no need to own a permit or license. To import or export butterflies (dead or alive) into or out of the United States you must have a U.S. Fish & Wildlife License AND you must declare each package and pay a fairly substantional fee for each package declaration. Be sure that you don't purchase any butterflies from companies or websites residing outside the U.S. without a license, as your package may be confiscated and you may be fined. If purchasing from a company within the U.S., make sure they imported their specimens legally via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (not customs). Many U.S. sellers illegally import their butterflies into the U.S. without clearance from U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

11.   Do you have a local store where I can see your products in person?

For the most part we only sell online. We do have a workspace (not a store or a showroom) in Apex, NC that we work and ship from and we do have some displays in stock. If you're very interested in our products an appointment can be made to visit our office in person.

12.   Why do acrylic displays cost more than regular framed butterflies?

Acrylic displays cost more than traditional framed butterflies because they take us approximately 6-10 times longer to complete than regular framed displays. We custom order all of our acrylic frames and they require an extensive amount of cleaning, preparation, sealing etc. Once sealed they can't be opened so we have to make sure we get it right! Balancing and perfectly angling the butterflies on thin rods is very time consuming as well, particularly in the large cases in which long rods are used or tight displays like the Rainbow Flight in which the fragile butterflies are "dangerously" close together.

Also note that the larger cases are made of a thicker (to prevent bending) and therefore heavier and more expensive acrylic and are deeper than the smaller frames. We also require an enormous amount of shipping supplies to insure that these fragile cases are not damaged during shipment, our flat shipping fee is well below our actual costs for the larger cases. There are simply just many more steps & costs involved, which is why butterflies are rarely displayed in acrylic cases even though it's the best way to display them. In the end all the additional work is worth it, there's no comparison to an acrylic framed butterfly display.

13.   I have butterflies I'd like to have framed, could you frame them for me?

If you send us the butterflies (email us first) we can mount the butterflies for you. However, it's important to understand that building these cases is a little risky to the butterflies and there exists the small possibility that one or more butterflies may be damaged.

14.   Can I buy your butterflies without them being framed?

Yes, we sell unspread, unframed butterflies as well as spread, unframed butterflies.  We also sell butterflies with minor damage in riker mounts. If you're a photographer and have the ability to touch up minor problems (such as a few scratches or spots) than most of the butterflies featured in those riker mounts would be ideal for your work at a greatly discounted price.

15.   Can you send me a catalog in the mail?

Sorry, we currently do not have a mail order catalog. If you have limited access to the internet (like work only) you might want to try your local library on the weekend, our site is open 24/7!

16.  Can I use your butterfly pictures for...?

Please contact us if you want to use our pictures. Non-commercial usage would be free however we would need to approve usage and would usually request credit and a link back to ButterflyUtopia.com if used on a website. We might also have larger, higher quality versions of photos on this website and can take raw photos of our butterflies for your use. 

17.   Why are antennas & some of the body removed on certain butterflies?

Unfortunately antennas are extremely fragile and many of our specimens arrive with broken antenna. To only use specimens with antennas would increase the cost of our displays. They might also be damaged when we ship the displays to you. This is especially dangerous for the acrylic and table top displays, which are sealed and cannot be opened.  If you must have antenna we can make exceptions but we can't 100% guarantee their safe arrival (they should be ok though). An additional fee ($7 per butterfly) would apply as the butterflies would have to be custom spread for your order.

With Morpho butterflies, the lower portion of the body is removed because it leaks out toxic oils that damage the wings.

18.   Does Butterfly Utopia actually make these displays or does someone else?

Our Butterfly Utopia artists design & frame all of the acrylic, riker mount, and table top butterfly displays. The butterfly wing art and butterfly jewelry are made by other artists. If you contact us you can speak directly to our artists!

19.  23x28 is the largest case size I see, do you make acrylic frames that are larger than that?

We are now able to offer cases up to about 6x6 feet. These cost significantly more to ship as they need to be custom crated but they are also available for pickup from our NC office. Contact us for details.

20.   Can your frames be hung in a bathroom with a shower?

Probably. Unfortunately we can't 100% guarantee that the airtight acrylic frames would be ok in a steamy bathroom only because we're just not sure. We do know some customers that have purchased them for their bathroom (and there's probably countless others who did so without informing us) and we've never had a complaint so we would guess that our airtight acrylic frames would be fine. We would advise against putting the riker mounts, table tops or wing art in the bathroom however.

21.   Do you sell live butterflies for wedding release or other events?

No, do a search engine search for "butterfly wedding release" and you'll find lots of companies that can help you out.

22. Regarding the multiple butterfly acrylic displays, will I receive the exact butterflies pictured?

Most pictures are sample pictures so you won't receive the exact case picture. For some displays you will receive same species pictured. Generally these displays will have the names of the species in the product description, for example a display that says "This display features Blue Mountain Swallowtail (Papilio ulysses), Majestic Green Swallowtail (Papilio blumei) & yellow Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterflies."

For Rainbow type displays a few (usually smaller) butterflies might differ from the photo. Sometimes we run out of certain butterflies or decide that a certain butterfly is an improvement over the pictured species. However, we only buy colorful butterflies and there are often many different options to make a display look awesome. If you have any concerns as to which species might differ feel free to contact us and we can tell you exactly what you'll be receiving! Of course we also have a full return policy in case the display you receive doesn't meet your expectations (it should exceed them though).

23.  Do you offer any sales or discounts regularly?

For the most part we don't have many major sales or discounts like other retailers might, for a few reasons. Namely that a lot of our butterflies are available to us in limited quantities and we only prebuild displays that sell well. We never have to "clear inventory" to make room for the "newest models or styles" etc. We don't buy the displays in bulk, Butterfly Utopia makes every display by hand with great care. Joining our mailing list will allow you to be notified of sales and discounts and often times these discounts are offered exclusively through the newsletter. 

24.   Why am I asking so many questions?

Don't know, go buy some butterflies already!