Butterfly World is the result of one man’s hobby gone wild.
Born of Dutch immigrants, Ronald Boender grew up in Illinois and had always had a fascination with butterflies, beginning with the cabbage whites, black swallowtails and silk moths he found while growing up on his father’s farm.
He moved to Florida in 1968, and after retiring from a successful career as an electrical engineer, he decided to actively pursue his interest in butterflies, beginning by raising local butterflies and butterfly food plants in small numbers at his home.
When he learned there was a market for “farmed” butterflies for sale to Universities and Zoos, Boender established MetaScience Co., a commercial butterfly farm, in 1984. The staff at MetaScience produced up to 1000 butterfly pupa per week, and established methods of butterfly rearing that are still in use at Butterfly World.
During this time, Boender also learned of attractions called “butterfly houses” springing up overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom. Intrigued by the possibilities, He went to England in 1985, and met Clive Farrell, founder and owner of the London Butterfly House. They became friends, and soon partners in the venture that became Butterfly World, the first butterfly house in the United States, and the largest in the world.