killing butterflies

Chris Raper triocomp at
Fri Sep 25 05:21:23 EDT 1998

On 24 Sep 1998 15:08:14 -0700, michaelgwalker at (Michael
Walker) wrote:

Hi Michael,

>First let me say that I am not against collecting for scientific purposes
>and I understand that some species are not possible to identify in the
>field without first killing it.  

Absolutely true :-)

>In Britain all of our butterfly species,
>yes I know we don't have many, are reasonably easy to identify with
>practise without capture.    

Mmm - not too sure here. You can certainly ID Small/Essex Skippers in
the field without catching them - if you can get close enough to the
little sods to see the tips of their antennae. If you are just
recording a list then you can aford to let a lot fly by until you get
a correct ID but if you are doing transects, which are a much better
way of recording population strengths, then you need to be able to ID
a much greater number and you have to catch them, if only temporarily,
to get a better look. 

>I regularly give talks about butterflies to local wildlife groups, and
>often non wildlife minded groups as well, and have had no difficulty in
>getting people enthusiastic about butterflies without the need to show them
>a dead specimen in a case.  Perhaps we are just soft and sentimental over
>here on our "little-bitty island" but I am sure that I would not be as
>successful if I turned up with a collection.  

True - though it largely depends on the sort of people you are
addressing. Many very young kids will pour over specimens with glee
but would fidget and fall asleep in a slide show. In the UK I
certainly think it is worth basing your talks on a good slide show but
it is always worth showing 'how it used to be done'.

>Many of these new converts are now regular
>recorders to the national "Butterflies for the New Millennium" project and
>are providing valuable data for the atlas to be published in 2000.

True - but I get a little worried that, in our eagerness to sign up
recorders, we are giving the impression that it is all very easy. In
reality a recording scheme is only as good as its recorders and many
are not carrying nets either because they have been told it isn't
necessary or for fear of being branded a 'collector'.

Best wishes,
Chris R.

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