RE. The numbers neil and balance

Patrick Foley patfoley at
Wed May 30 14:09:11 EDT 2001

Neil and other furious followers of the furry fliers,

I hesitate to speak out in defense of every aspect of Ron Latreille's nature
(which I only know from these posts), but I think we may be getting too excited
over too little.

I think Ron has misinterpreted Neil based on Neil's strong language concerning
Paul Cherubini and other anti-conservation elements on this list. I almost
always agree with Neil and disagree with Paul, except over issues of local fact
where occasionally Paul does know something.

Perhaps Ron could explain this better than I. Ron appears to mainly admirable in
his viewpoints but sometimes given to a strange malady I notice a lot in the
Southern United States (where I was born and partly raised). There is a strong
anti-authoritarian viewpoint there which does not mix well with the strong
religious and promilitary stylings of the region. (I should also mention that I
was raised in a strongly religious community and that my father was a military
professional, although not Southern himself - my mother and her clan were). My
point is that I see in Ron's voluminous forthpourings lots of apparent
contradictions: good natural history, wariness of science, love of butterflies
and their habitat, distrust of the government which does a lot to preserve that
habitat and preserve those butterflies, tolerance of others, attacks on
pro-choice lepidopterists etc.

I am being presumptuous in analyzing Ron. I do want to say that after attacking
a position of mine some months ago, perhaps out of politeness, perhaps from some
epiphany, Ron made graceful peace with me. Overall I see Ron not as part of a
monolithic regressive force (which we certainly do have in this polarized
nation), but as part of the divided national character. It is aggravating at
times, but it has its charms.

Anyway I hope Ron and Neil can see a little bit into each other's nature. You
are not enemies.

Patrick Foley
patfoley at

Neil Jones wrote:

> Ron Gatrelle wrote:-
> > Neil Jones wrote the following:
> > "I'm afraid that Leroy has made a common error of simplification in the
> > collection argument. It seems to me that he is repeating the common
> fallacy
> > that collecting cannot do any harm.
> > I made this posting some time ago, in February 1996,  and I have reposted
> > itseveral times in various places because the same point seems to be
> > being made continuously. It better answers points which were made at the
> > time it was originally posted but much of it is valid in answer to the
> > general point being made here. Incidentally I discovered after mking this
> > posting that there is one very well documented example of an extinction
> > caused by collecting in the lepidoptera, that of the New Forest Burnet
> moth
> > Zygaena viciae yetenensis in the 1920s in the UK."
> > **********
> First of all. Let me explain my position. I have been a lepidopterist since
> early childhood. I have a lot of experience breeding butterflies. I run a
> moth
> trap regularly. I carry a net when I am abroad where it is permissable. (It
> is rarely
> necessary for ID here in the UK.)
> A few days ago you could have seen me "collecting" caterpillars with a
> colleague
> which he wanted to rear on to properly identify. I don't, and never have,
> kept
> set specimens of butterflies although I have been known to dissect other
> insects where it
> is necessary to identify them.
>  I don't want to see collecting banned because it would stop the proper
> science.
> I know I irritate some extreme collectors. Their justification is you need a
> huge collection
> of specimens in order to properly study butterflies. This isn't true. My
> interest
> is in studying them and I believe I learn more by observation.
> > Neil has done us collectors a great service here. This is the first time I
> > have seen this post but I do hope it is posted many more times - at least
> > annually.
> I really wish that Ron wouldn't polarise the debate like this.
> > How and why is that? First, how did he help collectors? He showed that we
> > have virtually no impact on lepidopterous populations.   Neil has just
> > informed us that in all his vast experience and knowledge he only has - by
> > his own words "ONE" documented case in the last 1,000 years where
> > collecting did in a lepidoptera.  And this was back in 1920 - in the
> United
> > Kingdom.
> Please pay attention I didn't say in 1920 I said in the 1920's.
> Its not that I am being pedantic. It is that you are constantly missing the
> detail
> in an argument and drawing the wrong conclusion as a result
> I didn't say it was the ONLY case of damage. It is just well documented.
> Another ssp of the moth has been discovered in the UK and on occasions
> its population has been in single figures. Its location is a secret for
> obvious
> reasons.
> > Second, why post this annually?  Because it continues to demonstrate that
> > there is no documented impact.
> This is illogical. I state that there is documented impact and you say that
> this demonstrates there isn't any. This is poor thinking and logic.
> Besides I don't post it annually. Just when the point is valid.
> This is a classic example of an emotional and illogical response
> to the debunking of a cherished myth.
> > For if there was, he surely would cite the
> > many instances that occur each year. FACT - there  are no (1?) documented
> > incidences of collector caused extinctions - or even "wiping" out of
> > colonies (which is something I could believe).
> No. Again you are not thinking or doing your research. You should know
> if you pay attention that I have more data.
> >( I personally collect very
> > few butterflies on a yearly basis and would be in agreement with Neil that
> > there are definitely "unethical" collectors out there.)
> > Let's look at Neil's words -- "I'm afraid that Leroy has made a common
> > error of simplification in the collection argument. It seems to me that he
> > is repeating the common fallacy that collecting cannot do any harm."
> > Now let's apply the rule "Judged as we judge."   I'm afraid Neil has made
> a
> > common error of simplification in the collection argument. It seems to me
> > that he is repeating the common fallacy that collecting does enormous
> > harm."
> The enormous harm that collectors often do is often not by collecting
> but by endorsing, promoting and spreading the ideology that leads to the
> destruction of habitat. Ron Gatrelle, you may not wish to drive the
> bulldozers that destroy the habitat but by promoting ideas that facilitate
> it in a social forum you are putting gas in the tank.
> Now here is the data I have on collectors doing damage. I am not saying that
> all
> collectors are like this but unfortunately you rarely see this sort of
> behaviour
> condemned.
> I would rather not post the data here since I don't want collecting banned
> and
> it annoys collectors but Ron Gatrelle has challenged me for data so here is
> just a taster.
> This comes from a posting by Dr Patrick Roper. Who does collect insects
> but not butterflies. It consists of exerpts of a posting he made on the 6th
> December
> 1995. The full detail can be found in a very rudimentary FAQ that I started
> but never
> completed a few years ago. (Consequently there are broken links)
> The FAQ is at
> --------------------------------------------------------
> Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae)
> The London Branch of Butterfly Conservation worked hard in the late 1980s
> early 1990s to restore the habitat of this species at a site in Surrey.
> Eggs were being laid in good numbers on Blackthorn when persons unknown came
> along and removed a large amount of Blackthorn wood, complete with
> hairstreak eggs, with secateurs, thus severely damaging the colony.
> The Sussex Branch of the same organisation tried to safeguard a Brown
> Hairstreak colony along an old railway line.  In the early 1990s they
> advertised a field trip to the site for members in their bulletin and this
> provoked very unwelcome visits by collectors.  As a result they no longer
> advertise field trips there.
> Both these sites now have to be kept on the "secret" list.  The Brown
> Hairtreak is shy and retiring as an adult and collectors know the easiest
> way to fill the gap in their cabinets, or get that special variety, is to
> breed them from wild-collected eggs.
> Purple Emperor (Apatura iris)
> Ken Willmott in his excellent little book about the Purple Emperor published
> by Butterfly Conservation in 1990 says: "Sadly collecting is still a problem
> in some localities and every year on can see the bases of sallows strewn
> with twigs and branches that have been torn from the trees... Sometimes this
> wanton vandalism reaches such proportions that the damaged sallows are
> removed by foresters the following spring because of their sorry condition.
> The Purple Emperor is far too precious a creature to end up in a display
> cabinet and it is to be hoped that the threat to the butterfly from
> collectors and dealers will quickly become a thing of the past."
> Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina)
> I know two places where egg-bearing cowslip leaves have been picked by
> collectors and where this is regarded by members of Butterfly Conservation
> as having been a major contribution to the extirpation of the colony.  In
> one case the habitat was on the Surrey Downs and was the nearest to London.
> The other in West Sussex is close to my own heart because my wife and I saw
> the adult butterflies there before she became too disabled to walk that far.
> It was a wonderful afternoon in a wonderful place and it is sad that others
> will no longer be able to enjoy it in quite the same way now the Dukes have
> gone.
> --
> Neil Jones- Neil at
> "At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
> butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
> National Nature Reserve
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>    For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list