Chris Raper triocomp at
Mon Sep 21 10:16:42 EDT 1998

On 21 Sep 1998 04:23:08 -0700, cddc at COMPUSERVE.COM (Terry Rodbard) 

Hi Terry

The collecting debate has done the rounds here several times already
(in fact, I think I can hear the sound of people hitting the
'kill-filter' button already!) but to try and answer your points:

>Have any other members been distressed by the discussion on how to kill
>butterflies? Am I somehow missing the point?

Not really - but it depends on what the 13 year old wants to do with
the information. 

>Should we be teaching a 13 year old how to kill butterflies?  

In my experience most kids know how to kill insects already :-) but, I
expect what you are really meaning is 'should we be encouraging

Firstly we should define several critera for this question:
1. What types of insect do you mean? (butterflies, moths, flies,
2. What area of the world are we talking about (UK, South America...)
ie. how common are these things and how much knowledge are we going to
gain by studying them?

>All types of collecting are severely frowned upon in the UK 

This is, thankfully, not the case. In the UK butterfly collecting _is_
frowned upon - and quite rightly because a) many species are
threatened with extinction and b) there is very little to be gained
fom killing them.

In many cases though, the only reliable way to identify something is
to kill it. In this case I am thinking about the less well studied
orders like Diptera (flies), Coleoptera (beetles) etc. 

Then you have to work out _why_ you are identifying a specimen. If
this is just for a stamp-collection then I would say this is of little
scientific value. If, OTOH, you are contributing to local/national
recording schemes then this is of greater value and may actually help
preserve species (see below).

>and the taking
>of a small number of specimens is regarded as necessary by  the scientific
>members of our fraternity, but certainly not by the greater number of
>amateurs of which I am one.

Well sadly, with the current state of funding for scientific projects,
a lot of entomological research is left to amateurs. Amatuers far
outnumber professionals in most fields of study and contribute an
immense amount to recording projects, which in turn are used by many
professional conservationsists to target species and sites for

>Collect or dissect, the necessity of either I would like to be convinced of.  Try me.

Well, I hope I have gone some way (in the limited time I have
available - I'm at work) to explain why collecting is not such a black
and white issue and how 'responsible', targeted collecting with a
sound prupose behind it is vital for conservation purposes.

Best wishes,
Chris R.

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