Collecting, Watching, and Catch-And-Release

Dave Chesmore e.d.chesmore at
Mon Jun 21 09:27:14 EDT 1999

I noticed that the collecting debate has started again; it seems to re-occur
at an interval of about a year.

I am continually surprised that the main discussion is butterflies - in the
UK, we don't have many species and most can easily be identified without
killing but certainly not without capture.  However, I study moths and it is
almost impossible to identify many species without capture, killing and

In addition, when submitting records to the local or national recorders, if
they are unhappy about a particular record then they will ask "where is the
voucher specimen" irrespective of butterfly or moth.  I have known cases of
well known butterfly people who have said they saw a species of butterfly in
a location where the insect has never been known to exist, and never will.
The record was not accepted - a specimen or photograph would have sufficed.
I have personally been in the same position but have been able to produce
the specimens to prove the record.

I personally belive it is dangerous to consider butterflies as separate to
moths - let's have some discussions on the collecting of moths.

Finally, I agree with some of the comments about young people developing an
interest (and possibly their future profession) through collecting - I
started this way, and my son (aged 7) has a continuing fascination with the
subject.  I will help him to start a collection when he is old enough but to
do it conscientiously and not damage habitat or overcollect.

Dave Chesmore, FRES

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