Extinction of Mitchell's Satyr by collectors

Bastiaan Notebaert bnotebaert at hotmail.com
Wed May 17 14:24:33 EDT 2000

Maes & Van Dyck (1999)* discuss in a general work on Butterflies in Flanders (Belgium) the collecting of butterflies. They write the last Flemmish specimens of Coenonympha tullia and Maculinea teleius in Belgium were collected. They are strongly against capturing butterflies but they mention loss of habitat is the main reason why these species disappeared (for M. teleius it was the building of a home which caused the loss of habitat). But as collectors capture mostly fresh and good looking specimens (with a larger reproduction capability) this can cause large damage to the relictpopulations. So, a ban on collecting can save small relictpopulations but can't give any guaranties on durable survival of the species. Conservation of good habitats which are large enough is more important.
They also mention that Thomas JA (1983) found that in one day collecting in the summit of the Flight-period of Polyommatus bellargus a collector can maximally capture 18 % of the adult butterflies!
Unless these facts I'm also against active collecting butterflies. When you now that in a country as Flanders were the situation for butterflies is really disastrous (due to loss of habitat) and a population can be as small as maximal 1 butterfly observed a year (e.g. Cupido minimus in Bellem, East-Flanders; probably extinct in 1998 by constructing a concreted path on the habitat), you understand capturing one butterfly can cause a lot of damage. 
Beside, in Belgium the capturance and possession of some species is prohibited by law.

Bastiaan Notebaert
*: Maes D. & Van Dyck H., 1999, Dagvlinders in Vlaanderen - Ecologie, verspreiding en behoud; Stichting leefmilieu/Antwerpen i.s.m. Instituut voor natuurbehoud en Vlaamse Vlinderwerkgroep/Brussel.
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