What is Idlewild Butterfly Farm?
Urban farm. Small business. Louisville local. Entomologist owned and operated.
Idlewild Butterfly Farm is a privately owned small business in Louisville, KY that operates as a butterfly farm, insectarium, educational destination, and retail store. We focus on sustainable and ecologically-friendly practices such as butterfly habitat cultivation, sustainable agricultural practices, and biological alternatives to chemical pest control.
With the expertise of our staff of entomologists, we breed and rear our own stocks of regional native butterflies. These butterflies are available to the consumer for releases at weddings, memorials, and other events, or as educational kits for home and classroom.
But we’re more than just butterflies! Our USDA-approved insectarium house a spectacular collection of live exotic insects from around the globe. Visitors are invited to view these fascinating creatures but are also encouraged to interact with them. A tour of the Idlewild Butterfly Farm insectarium is a source of wonder for children and adults alike.
We are also committed to promoting sustainable and ecologically-friendly agricultural practices. The plants we sell are grown with the use of beneficial insects, never touched by insecticides, which is critical for their safe inclusion in a butterfly garden. We are also experienced in pest identification and working with the consumer to address their pest problems using biocontrol.
Our historic storefront in Old Louisville is also home to our curated gift shop. We feature wares from American small businesses and fair-trade imports: everything from butterfly wing jewelry and preserved insect specimens to home goods, children’s books and toys, unique gifts and more.
The butterfly is a widely beloved insect that not only enriches our lives with beauty but serves a valuable ecological role as a pollinator of plants and flowers. The metamorphosis life cycle of the butterfly is one of biology’s most captivating mysteries, inspiring everything from fine art to children’s books and songs.
We farm butterflies to bring this beloved insect into people’s lives through intimate first-hand encounters, educational experiences, and stunning butterfly releases.
What is a butterfly farm?
A butterfly farm is a livestock farm like any other - our livestock just happens to be tiny!
At a butterfly farm, butterflies are reared in a controlled environment and given human attention and care to produce beautiful, healthy butterflies - just like any other farm! And like other farms, our butterflies are available commercially: for live exhibit, as educational kits, or to release at special events. Butterfly farms are where butterflies in zoos or conservatories come from!
how it works
It Begins in the Bug Lab
Our butterflies begin their life as caterpillars in the “bug lab”, our USDA-inspected containment room. Each generation of caterpillars is hand-reared daily for an average of 4-5 weeks.
After several weeks in the bug lab our caterpillars are ready to pupate! The butterfly pupae (also called a chrysalis) are gathered and displayed while they wait to eclose as a mature butterfly.
Our butterflies go on to zoos, exhibits, special events, or into our on-site butterfly flight house where they can perform all their natural behaviors. We welcome visitors to enter the flight house and enjoy the butterflies!
Blair Leano-Helvey is the owner and mastermind behind Idlewild Butterfly Farm. Blair founded Entomology Solutions LLC in 2009, providing sustainable biological control solutions to plant pests in greenhouses, nurseries, farms, and the home. In 2015 she expanded the business to form Idlewild Butterfly Farm & Insectarium and opened our Logan Street storefront to the public, inviting visitors to tour our facility, see our process, and experience the big little world of bugs and butterflies.
Blair has always had a passion for all things creepy and crawly and Idlewild is her way of sharing that passion with her local community. With backgrounds in various areas of entomology such as biological control, pollinator and butterfly conservation, insect rearing and more, Blair and the team of entomologists at Idlewild are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable folks around.
Rachel Barger is Idlewild’s lead insect keeper and lab manager. Rachel graduated from the University of Kentucky with degrees in biology and entomology, and their experience rearing insect colonies in a lab setting was a perfect fit for Idlewild. Rachel’s chief duties include managing Idlewild’s insectarium and all of its residents, providing entomological consults, and interfacing with a curious community.
Rachel has been with the Idlewild team since the business opened in 2015 and has been sharing their quirky personality and breadth of knowledge with visitors to the facility ever since.
Rachelyn Dobson is our education and outreach specialist. Rachelyn graduated from the University of Kentucky with degrees in biology and agriculture and a M.S. degree in entomology. As an undergraduate research assistant, she supported research projects investigating native bee pollination in various crops and aided with the implementation of biological control programs in several local greenhouses. For her master’s thesis she studied organic control options for the invasive brown marmorated stink bug.
Rachelyn joined the Idlewild team in 2015 and is excited to share her love of beautiful and beneficial insects with the community!