butterfly sales: to buy or not to buy?

Mike Soukup mikayak at ix.netcom.com
Sat May 2 13:09:43 EDT 1998

Good Job Harry!

Pavulaan wrote:

> 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
> butterflies.
> 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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