b-fly releases at events

Mark Berman bugman at bugs.org
Thu Sep 23 00:08:06 EDT 1999


This subject has interested me for the past three years or so. I do
enrichment programs in schools mostly in New England, but also in OH, AZ,
CA, and FL. In many, many classrooms I have seen the (exceptional) Painted
Lady classroom activity in progress (or its remains.) The instructions given
to the teachers includes releasing the adults as a "finale."

As my research background is in butterfly behavior and color polymorphism,
and my graduate work was in education then ecology, I am intrigued and (I
think) a little concerned about this phenomenon. Some schools only release a
few, but I have been in schools that released >20 in one season. These
larvae are no doubt the result of many, many lab-reared generations which
eat an artificial diet. What might become of their offspring in the wilds of
New England is anybody's guess. As is their potential impact on the local
ecosystem (system being the operative word here). Do you think we could end
up with "Killer Butterflies!?"

There are plenty of examples of introductions of non-native species
resulting in major ecological challenges. I'm sure many of you are quite
familiar with most. The impact of these events extends far beyond the
relative value of monitoring programs, sometimes resulting in public health
hazards or serious challenges to populations of valuable native organisms.

The reason I'm not sure I think this is a real problem is that animals
radiate in many clever ways. Perhaps human intervention fits into this
paradigm. Though I suppose if we steer clear of abetting invasions, we can
blame Mother Nature when there's an ecological price to pay.

I have alsways thought that the responsible thing for the Painted Lady
project suppliers to do would be to include preserving and mounting
instructions with their kits. I suggest this to many of the teachers after
boring them with ecological philosophy and they are surprisingly receptive
to the notion. It is, after all, one part of being an entomologst. I think
if it is handled in a responsible fashion, this would be an important part
of the lesson (death happens... it's okay for children to undertsand that,
and why it *might* be preferable in this situation).

As far as how this all applies to wedding releases.... while I think this is
a nice idea....
perhaps bags full of rose petals would achieve a similar, less controversial

But, on the other hand, since butterflies generally spend the majority of
their lives as caterpillars, maybe that shold be the release item of choice!
Perhaps not as romantic. Perhaps that's why i'm still single.... oh well.

BUGMAN Educational Entoprises

Anthony Cynor <acynor at fullerton.edu> wrote in message
news:37E93FFD.AF41054E at fullerton.edu...
> They don't have any it is just opinion.
> Tony
> Linda Rogers wrote:
> > At 04:08 AM 9/22/1999 GMT, you wrote:
> > >Jim;  Please pass on to the initial author that butterflies should not
> > released in any kind of ceremony, no matter where they are from.  They
> > not be native to that particular habitat, or part of Wisconsin, or
> > whatever.  Both NABA and the Lep Society have been trying very hard to
> > the releasing of butterflies at ceremonies.  It is a well intended but
> > potentially detrimental
> > practice.  Mike Smith
> > >
> > ----------------------------------
> > Mike: Would you please tell me what evidence you, NABA, Lep Society
> > this recommendation on?  Butterflies are released after being shipped to
> > person from a breeder that is permitted by USDA to ship them, only
> > species to certain states/areas.  The permits are required in order to
> > PREVENT non-native species from being released.  That blows a hole in
> > part of the opinion. So, please tell me how releases are detrimental and
> > who determined this from what proven facts.  Linda Rogers

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