NY Times Butterflying Article

Paul Cherubini monarch at saber.net
Sat Jun 9 15:45:19 EDT 2001

Wanda Dameron wrote:

> Would you actually prefer to encourage thousands, perhaps hundreds of
> thousands to catch & pin butterflies?
> Do you consider that a responsible recommendation as a scientist? 
> As a conservationist?

Consider a wildly exaggerated case:

Say all of NABA's approx. 5000 members went into the field this
summer to catch and pin 30 common butterflies = 150,000 total
dead butterflies over a period of 4 months within a population 
of involving hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of individuals.
A mathematically and biologically trivial impact, hence there is 
no scientifically legitimate conservation issue involved here.

Further,  say NABA recruits 5,000 new members each year via more high
profile NY Times type articles who in turn also go into the field to catch 
and pin 30 common butterflies =150,000 more dead butterflies each year. 
Still trivial.

Commercial butterfly breeders, by the way, are adding approximately
300,000 monarchs and 500,000 Vanessa butterflies to the environment
each year.

> Or what are you trying to accomplish?   Discourage interest in
> butterflies to only those that are willing to do time-consuming
> spreading, pinning, storage and maintenance of specimens?   Please
> explain.

I agree with NABA's stated goal which is "working to increase
public enjoyment and conservation of butterflies." But, ironically,
I see NABA actively discouraging the public from collecting and
pinning or breeding and releasing butterflies. 

Example from the NABA website: http://www.naba.org/action.html

"Butterflies are living animals, not toys. There is something ethically 
wrong with treating butterflies as if they were mere playthings for

In sum, NABA leaders object to the following extremely popular forms 
of butterfly enjoyment for philosophical,  not scientifically legitimate 

An analogy might be if I called for a moratorium, in the NY Times, on NABA 
butterfly watching field trips because of the thousands of insects that get 
killed on members' windshields and radiators en route to butterfly sites and
the thousands of plants get trampled by members while walking through 
butterfly meadows. I could propose that watching butterflies on ones home
computer via remote controlled video cameras placed in meadows is the
only appropriate method of enjoying butterflies.

Paul Cherubini, Placerville, Calif.


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