butterfly sales: to buy or not to buy?

Pavulaan Pavulaan at aol.com
Sat May 2 11:27:15 EDT 1998

An important point is being missed by people responding to this issue of
butterfly sales.  I use myself as an example.  

David Wright and I are currently involved in a major revision of North
American Celastrina (Azures).  One portion of the project is determining
geographic distribution of the various taxa.  In addition to our own
collecting and field observation work, we have examined numerous institutional
and private collections, and have BORROWED thousands of specimens from various
sources.  Many people have been kind enough to respond to my ads, and have
sent specimens without expectation of trade or payment. 

Often, it is necessary for me to obtain specimens from a part of the continent
where distributional information is missing.  This is where I have to trade
for, or purchase, specimens.  At times, commercial collectors and dealers are
the ONLY source of specimens which I need for my research.  I do not have any
problem with paying for specimens, in order to fill knowledge gaps, especially
from areas previously unknown in a species' range.  This is where simple
Economics-101 takes precedence over the ethics of collecting and selling

Some of you seem to be forgetting your childhood.  Often, youngsters, reading
about butterflies and viewing them on PBS, only dream about visiting the
tropics and seeing these flying beauties.  When I was young, I dreamt nightly,
of lush tropical wonderlands, teaming with butterflies.  Neither could my
parents not only afford to take me to the tropics, but they had no interest in
the subject (I still cannot afford to go there myself).  Thus, I obtained the
Butterfly Company catalog, and spent my hard-earned newspaper-route money to
purchase these tropical beauties and place them into frames so I could admire
them for hours a day.  

I still have most of those frames now.  They have been hanging on walls for
over 30 years, and they are still as brilliant and colorful as ever.  They
don't serve any scientific use, especially without accompanying data, but I am
still amazed at the fascination that people show, when "oooh-ing and aaah-ing"
over my framed beauties.  Everybody wants them!  None of them know a thing
about butterflies.  Perhaps they DO serve a purpose in hanging on a wall: they
remind the average person who only has family, job and junk TV on their mind
daily, that there is a mysterious world of beauty out there...somewhere.
Perhaps this "reminder", if anything, will keep those folks from totally
forgetting that there are butterflies out there.

Harry Pavulaan

P.S.: OK, fire away.

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