Butterfly book and supplies info needed...

James J. Kruse kruse at nature.Berkeley.EDU
Mon Apr 3 18:13:40 EDT 2000

> It is a great idea to teach children about lepidoptera, and hands on study
> will keep the attention of younger minds.  I have to wonder though, are
> these children exceptionally gifted, because to take it to the level that is
> beyond most high schoolers may be a bit overwhelming.  Most modest

I don't think I was exceptionally gifted, but starting in first grade I
used to mount leps on a little square of styrofoam, pin with a sewing pin
and hold the wings down with paint bottles. I knew little about what I was
doing, and there was no one around to help me out. I do not think I wasted
my time because I learned a lot about butterflies and moths and also about
their habitats in order to find them. Yes, I 'threw away living animals'
but no more than any other predator around, and considering my coat hanger
and cheesecloth net, it was probably a pretty fair fight right down to the
end. Most kids don't know what collecting in series means, and I was no
exception. I only took one of each kind. 

I don't think 4th grade is too young. I am happy that I was not
discouraged when I started in 1st grade. So what if the specimens are not
mounted museum quality? There is a learning curve for everything, and most
of what a kid is going to find in his/her backyard is common stuff and can
easily handle any collecting pressure a kid can put on the
population. Besides, perfect mounting jobs are more for show than they are
of scientific value. The idea that every lep must be spread at all is a

The first record of the endangered American Burying Beetle from South
Dakota (I think I have the state right) was found in the collection of a
young girl at a county fair. If it were not for that discovery, that
beetle would not be known from that state, nor would any conservation of
it be possible.

Finally, let kids be kids. I'm happy that I was encouraged to go out and
collect butterflies instead of being told there was something wrong with
me, diagnosed with ADD and drugged with Ritilin.

Jim Kruse
University of California at Berkeley
Dept. of Environ Sci, Policy and Mgmt.
Div. of Insect Biology
201 Wellman Hall
Berkeley, California, 94720-3112
Voice: (510) 642-7410    Fax: (510) 642-7428

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