Day of the Butterflies

Butterfly Mystique is not a fancy overpriced attraction but a family-operated farm with an ever-blooming crop of scaly winged creatures and other insects. Owners Matt Bielecki and his mother, Renee, began raising butterflies for pleasure; as the hobby and their friends' interest in it took flight, they decided to set up shop. Six years later the result is a five-acre butterfly farm from which they run a butterfly-supply operation, a gift shop, and nursery, and conduct educational tours of their butterfly aviary. (Caterpillar 1, a recent endeavor, is a mobile insect exhibition, complete with antennae.) The Bieleckis sell live adult butterflies ($75 per dozen) for release at any event -- wedding, funeral, grand opening -- that calls for a graceful, environmentally friendly swoosh of color. It is only legal to breed butterflies native to this region, so the Bieleckis rear Florida inhabitants such as Monarchs, Julias, Great Southern Whites, and our state butterfly, the Zebra Longwing, as opposed to exotics displayed at spots such as Broward's Butterfly World. During a recent afternoon frolic with Butterfly Mystique's residents, New Times spoke with an enigmatic Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).

New Times: Why butterflies?

Painted Lady: The name has absolutely nothing to do with the way we propagate (which happens to be posterior to posterior).

How many lives does a butterfly have?

Well, it depends how you mean that. I've been an egg, a larva, a pupa, a chrysalis.

I knew I could get you to say the word pupa.

[Lady glares.]

Do butterflies tell stories?

Actually we do.

Are butterflies ever dangerous?

Ever heard of the butterfly kiss of death?

As far as butterflies go, do you consider yourself an experimental butterfly?

I used to be.

Tell me: From a butterfly's perspective, what are people like?

Strange. They try to create beauty instead of seeing and appreciating it around them; in the process they end up destroying many beautiful things, including us and the plants we need to live.

You sound bitter.

Bitter no. Cold-blooded yes.

What would you be if you weren't a butterfly?

A podiatrist.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robin Shear