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How We Started Growing Butterflies in Our Gifts Shop and What It Taught Us

By  Xenia Mateiu

Carlsbad CA— My name is Xenia Mateiu, and I am the owner of a Carlsbad local crystals & gemstones gifts shop, the Village Rock Shop. I was blessed with a wonderful natural event when I accidentally started growing butterflies. Everything started when we were struggling during Covid and we employed a gardener to improve our outdoor space to make our store more noticeable. During this time, our landscape greatly enhanced as well as our knowledge about plants that attract butterflies. Our gardener, Chris Bany has taught us so much.

Among the plants that butterflies are most drawn to is milkweed, which we had included in our landscape. The whole process is very interesting, the butterfly larvae eat the plants’ leaves, find a safe place to create their chrysalis, and begin their transformation. As the milkweed plants were near our store entrance, some of the larvae made their way inside and started their chrysalis in our shop. This was a truly unique experience to watch; while the world was shut down due to the pandemic, I used to come in the store to work on our website, package, and ship products. Now I also had a fascinating event to watch unfold over the course of a couple of weeks. I had never seen anything like it before or knew anything about this process, so it was something very special to me and I found the whole process most intriguing.

How Butterflies Help Nature

Butterflies play a significant role in the health of an ecosystem and are of great help in determining the state of a natural area. Here are the main ways in which butterflies help the environment, as I’ve recently discovered:

  • They help with plant pollination – just like bees, butterflies eat nectar from flowering plants and while they do so they pick up pollen and help pollinate other plants as they move from one flower to another.
  • They keep certain organisms in check – butterflies eat the leaves of their host plants and as a result, they help keep some plant species from overspreading. Some butterflies even eat insect predators that are harmful to plants and they also consume rotten fruits, carrion, or animal excrements and help rid the ecosystem of waste.
  • They can help with determining an ecosystem’s health – scientists can use butterflies, by studying their presence and behavior, to determine the health of an ecosystem. One huge help is that they can show if an area has been polluted with pesticides as they are very sensitive to pesticides. So if an area is missing its butterflies population it may mean that the area is polluted with these toxic substances.

How to Help Protect Butterflies

If you love butterflies as much as I do I am sure you’ve heard their numbers are getting lower every year and you are perhaps wondering what you can do to help increase their numbers. Here are some easy things you can try:

  • You can provide them with a suitable habitat – go online and search for plants that attract butterflies and get some for your garden. Include a variety of nectar-producing plants to ensure that the butterflies have plenty of food throughout the year. Some plants I recommend: lavender, daisies, tea trees, citrus, verbena.
  • Try to eliminate or at least minimize chemical use in your garden – pesticide use is one of the most harmful practices many people still resort to without realizing what a harmful effect it has, both on them and the natural environment. Nowadays there is a wide variety of natural ways to combat pests in your garden without the use of toxic chemicals. You can make your DIY solution (there are plenty of useful recipes online) or you can opt for buying a premade solution.

The Spiritual Meaning of Butterflies

We all feel that there is something magical in a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. As you probably already know, the whole process is a metaphor for rebirth; but the butterflies’ spiritual symbolism runs deeper than that.

Butterflies represent transformation on all levels. They teach us how to go within ourselves to dissolve old forms and morph, into a more evolved version of ourselves. They show us that surrender and trust are two main factors in the essential process of spiritual growth and renewal.

Butterflies are also a symbol of rebirth, hope, and bravery. Seeing them is a sign that positive change is materializing, and brave forces are watching over you to ensure a graceful transition. The symbol of the butterfly encourages you to confidently flow through your transformation process. You must trust the process without knowing the outcome beforehand; exactly like a caterpillar when starting the chrysalis process.

The bottom line is that we have a lot to learn from these beautiful creatures and they are worth protecting. I am so grateful that I was given the chance to witness their beautiful metamorphosis process firsthand and also share it with my customers. Everyone is so excited when they come into the shop and see them and they are always curious to learn more about them. The butterflies have been a wonderful source of inspiration both to us and to our customers. We are also grateful for having the opportunity to show our love and appreciation towards the natural world and provide a little haven for these magnificent creatures.

For more information about the Village Rock Shop, visit https://www.villagerockshop.com

About the author: Xenia Mateiu is the founder and owner of the Village Rock Shop in Carlsbad. A local gifts shop selling crystals, gemstones, jewelry, incense, custom gift boxes, and others. 

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