Government views Monarch Butterfly Releases as a threat toWestern Milkweeds

Paul Cherubini cherubini at
Wed Dec 12 20:53:07 EST 2001

Pat  wrote:

> 1) One of the chapters (Morton 1984) of The Biology of Butterflies
> (Vane-Wright and Ackery ed) is devoted to "The effects of marking
> and handling on recapture frequencies of butterflies". It is not sanguine.

> My point is that scientists are constantly arguing about exactly
> those issues that you and Bruce think are silly to argue about.

I agree these issues may not be silly when we are talking about a butterfly
as rare and restricted in range and habitat as the Bay Checkerspot.
But Bruce Walsh's comments were about Monarchs - a weedy, opportunistic
species with a near worldwide, human-aided distribution. I apologise for
not making that clear.

You mention the work of butterfly biogeographer Vane-Wright. In
the 1980's  Dr.Vane-Wright spent considerable time tracing the spread
of the Monarch Butterfly around the world. In an abstract of a paper
he gave at a 1986 Monarch Symposium in Los Angeles he wrote:
"In the mid -19th century the monarch spread across the Pacific
[ocean] with all the vigor of a pest [insect] species."  Dr. Vane-Wright
attributes this rapid spread across the Pacfic and Atlantic
in the mid-1800's to hitch-hiking on the new fast moving steam
powered ships that replaced the old slow wind powered ships.

So yes I agree there are sometimes unimagined consequences of
human activity on butterfly abundance and distribution - including
consistently positive outcomes for weedy species such as the Monarch.

Best regards,

Paul Cherubini


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