NOT the collecting debate :-)

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Mon Jun 21 14:33:00 EDT 1999

Don't forget us inept zoo-keepers. I kept my little victims in jamjars
and fed them inappropriately until they passed to the great beyond. 
My children also were inveterate critter-keepers,with better success (I
did some research) although I did take up taxidermy so that some of
their roadside finds might be kept. 
Some of these (a kestrel, a barred owl and such) were handed on to a
museum. Possession of any of this stuff except the bugs is against the
law in Florida now, I think ... that troubles me, for how will a child
come to love snakes unless he can keep snakes? 
And where will your museum keepers come from, if we can't pick up so
much as a feather without breaking federal laws? 
Meanwhile it's perfectly fine to bulldoze the forest where the bird
might have nested ... I'm going out back and stick straws in my hair;
perhaps that will help. 
Of course children need to keep bugs in jars, collect insects (who cares
if they're butterflies or moths or cockroaches) etc. in order to develop
their lively sense of curiosity. 
Do they get to collect butterflies because they're pretty? Is it OK to
make coffee tables with butterflies under glass? Is there a significant
difference between collecting farmed butterflies, butterflies caught in
"hunting preserves," or butterflies dancing about in untamed meadows? 
Is a serious entomologist more valuable than (say) an artist inspired by
a butterfly he bought in a shop? 
What about the second graders I visited, who had a couple of cages in
which they kept zebra longwings (Heliconius charitonius) until they
died; then they displayed them dead on the classroom wall. Is that going
to produce serious entomologists? 

And I agree ... we don't hear anybody complaining about folks running
after moths with nets ... except the big showy moths that are honorary
butterflies anyway. 
Meanwhile, apparently, if I want Palm Beach County to have any
butterflies in it on Paul Opler's nice web page, we need a voucher
collection of dead bugs somewhere. Otherwise we're a blank. sigh. 
Anne Kilmer

Chris Raper wrote:
> Hi
> The recent discussions about NABA and the pro/anti collecting debate
> go me thinking. So I thought I would post the idea here and see what
> you think.
> My question is - are children who are allowed to collect butterfies
> more likely to grow into more serious entomologists - either
> professional or amateur?
> I started collecting insects in match-boxes when I was a child and my
> interest has since developed from butterfly collecting to photograhphy
> through to moth trapping, conservation work, invertebrate recording &
> monitoring and more recently I have started to become interested in
> diptera & parasitic hymenoptera - where collecting is an essential
> part of getting to grips with the groups. I haven't collected
> butterflies in the UK since I was a kid and I have all but stopped
> taking moth vouchers - but I still believe that I wouldn't be as
> interested in general entomology if I hadn't collected insects as a
> child.
> My worry is that although butterfly 'watchers' are good for butterfly
> conservation, 'entomology' as a hobby still needs people who are going
> to go further and progress to the, more difficult groups like moths,
> flies and wasps.
> What do you think?
> Chris R.

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