killing butterflies for fun???

jh jhimmel at
Sat Jul 6 15:30:31 EDT 2002

Anne - You may disagree with me, but if no one collected, or passively
watched, butterflies and moths, society would not end.  That is what I
meant.  Granted, it would be far less interesting, but the butterflies and
moths would go on, as would society.

However, if people were told that they could not drive cars to work lest
they run over butterflies and moths, well, I think that would have a far
greater impact on the way we live.

Perhaps after the initial catastrophe, it may be even better.

John Himmelman
Killingworth, CT
jhimmel at

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-----Original Message-----
From: Anne Kilmer [mailto:viceroy at GATE.NET]
Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 2:26 PM
To: jhimmel at
Cc: leps-l at; Ron Gatrelle
Subject: Re: killing butterflies for fun???

jh wrote:

> This message and several others that were posted had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to
> do with what I wrote - and this is what happens every time this topic
> arises.  So many on both sides are so eager to score points that these
> become conversations among deaf people.  Instead of reading and responding
> to what was written, the respondants' back gets up as he or she reads a
> perceived attack on their hobby/vocation and launches into a defensive
> diatribe.
> My whole focus was on the use of one particular argument - comparing
> actively collecting to accidentally hitting leps with cars. I'm sorry, but
> they cannot be compared.  We live in a society where we need to drive to
> to our jobs.  We don't live in a society where we need to collect
> butterflies and moths.  There are those (and again, I'm not one of them -
> feel like I have to say this in order to keep this on topic) who are
> bothered that some people collect butterflies and moths for a hobby.  They
> are bothered that some people go out of their way to do so.  Asking those
> people to give up driving is unrealistic.  [So is asking them to give up
> eating meat - but I may be poking a hornet's nest with that one ;^) ]


> John Himmelman

One can only assume that Paul was bored ... he rousted ancient arguments
on three lists at once. Bless his heart.

yes, the argument is stupid, boring, banal, irrelevant.

however, John, your grand statement that "we don't live in a society
where we need to collect butterflies and moths" is based on a sad lack
of scientific curiosity. If you are subscribed to leps-talk, you see
continual chatter about various cryptic species of butterflies ... some
that you have been looking at every day, and apparently misidentifying.

Assuming it's important to know about these cryptic species, since they
make changes that reflect and reverberate with our changing weather
systems, it is also important to have scads of drawers of dead bugs, to
which new methods of inquiry can be applied as they are developed.
Ron Gatrelle, for instance, reports on a new Tiger Swallowtail which has
been mistakenly identified as another species, and you hear the clanging
and swishing of drawers all over the world, as scientists examine their
specimens to find out which in fact they have, change labels where
necessary, whisk off a scrap of tarsus for DNA sampling ... oh, it's
breathtaking, and without the lepidopterists we'd be dead in the water.

It suddenly came to folks' attention, just a little while ago, that the
people who had been reporting Checkered Skippers in the Atlanta area (I
may have this wrong, but it's close enough for government work) have
indeed been looking at Tropical Checkered Skippers. What the hell
happened, we all wonder, and what else has been going on that we don't
know about. And again you hear those drawers swishing.

Gosh, John, do you think that looking at a lot of photographs would
help? Not at all; you have to dissect the little guys to find out which
bug you're looking at. So what happened to all the Checkered Skippers
that used to be there, and why do we now have Tropical Checkered
Skippers, and when did the change take place, and what else is happening
that we don't know about? And, most of all, how does this affect what
you pay for your Post Toasties?

The fellow driving the car (and polluting the planet, as well as hitting
a lot of butterflies) has a great deal to do with why we now have
warm-country bugs showing up in cold-country places, and indeed he would
do well to consider working closer to home, tele-commuting, and in
general leaving smaller, shallower hoofprints on our plundered planet.
The fellow dashing about with the butterfly net, spreading ruin and
scattering ban, splashing and paddling with hooves of a goat, in
Browning's immortal words (Elizabeth Barrett, not Robert) may be doing a
tiny amount of one-on-one mayhem, which he pays for in the form of
In the long run, that's good for the bugs.
He got there in a car, and he's going home in a car, and he'll kill
plenty of bugs in each direction, and so what. They're just bugs. God'll
make more, if we treat the planet right.

There is no moral highground here, and any minute now we'll all be in
the soup.

It is time, in fact, for us all to hang together, in the full and
certain knowledge that otherwise we all hang separately.

Anybody been down to the Keys recently? Them bugs enjoying the rain?

Anne Kilmer
Mayo, Ireland


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