Butterfly regs

Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Wed Jan 16 15:32:28 EST 2002


Children and teachers will learn more about butterflies, plants and nature by
collecting their local butterflies, raising and releasing them. Insterstate
shipping is not needed. Nor is it necessary to kill millions of butterflies (as
Paul Cherubini strangely accuses NABA of planning) in order for children to
study butterflies meaningfully and locally.

Humans make use of lots of plants and animals, and I am glad of it. But should
we use every animal and plant? Screw around with every gene pool and disease

We have discussed these issues at length here (and you may want to look at the
archives). My take on the issue is this.

1) A lot of people on the list have a financial interest in interstate shipping
(good luck to them).
2) Why can't we just do what we feel like without government regulation
(Everyone wishes for this).
3) There is no record of disaster caused by shipping.

1) It commercializes creatures we wish could fly free of commercialization (but
this is just environmental whacko sentimentality).
2) It encourages children and brides to see butterflies as commodities or
decorations (but the free market is the heart and soul of our culture).
3) It makes scientific study of butterfly movements and gene flow harder (but
scientists are just ivory-tower know-it-alls anyway).
4) It increases the likelihood of epidemics and the flow of potentially
dangerous DNA of various sorts such as transposons, viruses and runaway sexually
selected genes and makes it harder for the evolution of isolated populations to
occur. (But we haven't had a disaster yet and evolution is just an exploded
theory communists developed to control our children's minds).

Thus as a quantitative ecologist, I lean against releases 4-3.

Please forgive any irony or sarcasm that may have crept into this post due to
cultural evolution of the most damning sort.

Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu

Jane Dillonaire wrote:

> Here's what I don't understand about the whole butterfly release question:
> How is the use of butterflies for human enjoyment any more objectionable
> than our selective breeding of cats/dogs/rabbits/cattle/sheep/ etc. etc.
> etc.?  In my humble view, butterfly breeding is less destructive and less
> likely to produce they type of genetic alteration that causes animals to
> require human assistance for their survival than most domestications.  In
> fact, butterfly farming for release (and, dare I say, collecting) are the
> only commercial human uses of animals I can think of which result in a
> benefit to the animal - how many people have been inspired to appreciate the
> beauty of nature through the practice of butterfly releases? How many
> gardeners now include milkweed as a staple in their flower beds?  How many
> children have learned about the importance of conserving the habitat of all
> creatures with their Monarch ambassador leading the way?  This is a good
> thing.  I should think we would encourage this type of public education - I
> personally think it needs to be expanded (which is why I visit
> Monarch-rearing classrooms with moths and other arthropods).
> Humans have been manipulating nature to our benefit forever.  Where are the
> objections to the cruelties imposed on the "poor insects" in the silk
> industry?  Why is there no insistence that we reverse our domestication of
> Bombyx mori to try to return it to the wild?  Ridiculous? Maybe, but that
> never stopped the critics before.
> Jane Dillonaire
> (usually quietly opinionated student of entomology)
> Nazareth, Pennsylvania
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