releasing butterflies

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Wed May 16 01:05:58 EDT 2001

In the movie Contact the main character was about to make a trip into outer
space. The people in charge gave her a suicide pill to take in her gear in
case she needed it. She didn't want to take this along and asked why she
should. The people in charge said they could probably think of hundred
reasons why she should take this "option" along - then they said "But the
main reason is the things we can't think of." In life, as in the sci-fi
movies, it is the things we can't or don't think of that invariably end up
biting us in the rear.

This is why I am opposed to releasing "organisms" into foreign environs -
period. No, _ I_  don't see any harm in letting Red Admirals or Painted
Ladies reared in one part of the US loose in another part. So I can't give
any statistical or "scientific" reason not to. But what I don't see and
don't know makes me not like the idea.

                                        On another front.
I do know that Government is the biggest screwer upper and not business or
individuals (Kudzu and Chernobyl). The type locality of Speyeria aphrodite
cullasaja is just about wiped out in North Carolina because the Forest
Service, Fish & Wildlife, and NC DNR have destroyed the Viola in the main
breeding area via an introduced exotic grass they brought in to benefit the
wild Turkey population. They are sewing this grass everywhere! I recently
saw it in a rare serpentine barrens where this government introduced grass
is killing all the small native plants! Turkey Hunters Rule!

Mono management destroys biodiversity faster than anything. When the SC
Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge was established the main tree was Long
Leaf Pine. This was logged out and replaced by Slash (for the sake of, and
per the desire of, the lumber industry) a generation later this has not
worked and the plan is to reseed the Long Leaf. I learned of this from a
Refuge manager/ranger while doing research there for F&W a few years ago.
Loggers Rule!

The state of SC destroyed the largest (by far) breeding area for Megathymus
yuccae on Edisto Island several years ago when they enlarged Edisto State
Park's beach front camping area. Campers Rule!  And on and on.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Patrick Foley" <patfoley at>
To: <monarch at>
Cc: <leps-l at>
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 11:55 PM
Subject: Re: Red Admirals on track

> Ferocious fanciers of the furry fliers,
> As we know from past debate, there are legitimate concerns about
> butterflies, concerns that are hard to objectively evaluate. Scientists
> others are right to worry about disease transmission being increased by
> unconsidered releases. Whether or not this concern overcomes our natural
> reluctance to let people do whatever they damn well please is certainly
> debateable, but I am not interested in that debate here.
> I am simply arguing that those who are troubled by releases are not a
> bureaucratic conspiracy, hysterical with paranoia. In fact, they have
> history on their side in their worries about invasions, diseases and
> The history of stupid introductions, ravaging introduced diseases and
> completely unforseen consequences is pretty spectacular in the biological
> world.
> Incidentally in my area (Yolo and Sacramento Counties, California), I am
> seeing any Red Admirals at present. The Painted Ladies have settled down
> oviposition around here, especially on Malva parviflora and a few
> composites. They no longer seem so compelled to speed North and West.
> Patrick Foley
> patfoley at
> Paul Cherubini wrote:
> > Pat Foley wrote:
> >
> > > They make such incorrect statements accidentally, I suspect.
> > > Paul Cherubini leaves out the other species in that sentence, and I
> > > think that the Red Admiral got smuggled in accidentally. So send
> > > them a direct message, Paul, to fix their mistake.
> >
> > One thing we know for sure is that NABA continues to promote
> > the notion that interstate shipments and releases of
> > Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and American Ladies are a scientifically
> > legitimate threat to wild populations of these butterflies.
> >
> > What follows are some snips I took from the "Butterfly
> > Releases: Action You Can Take" update that NABA apparently recently
> > posted on its website
> >
> > "The USDA is now reconsidering its regulations regarding the
> > interstate shipment of live butterflies.The regulations being
> > would allow interstate shipments of American Ladies, Painted
> > Ladies and Red Admirals without any permit.What Can You Do?
> > Because the USDA listens to public opinion, it is important that you
> > contact the USDA and express your views regarding this
> > threat to wild butterfly populations.
> >
> > Write to: Wayne F. Wehling, USDA-Aphis, PPQ PRA, Unit
> > 133, 4700 River Rd., Riverdale, MD 20737; or send an email
> > message to him at Wayne.F.Wehling at"
> >
> > "Scientists, trying to track, for example, northward movement in the
> > spring of Painted Ladies, now are confused by Painted Ladies
> > being released into the environment."
> >
> > "The fact that Red Admirals can be found in Florida and in
> > California does not preclude the likelihood that some
> > diseases or parasites of Red Admirals and other butterflies
> > are currently limited in their range to, for example, Florida, or
> > to California."
> >
> >
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