Paul Cherubini monarch at
Thu Apr 14 15:05:22 EDT 2011

Carolyn King wrote:

> I assume that none of these open-minded people has 
> actually read your book.

No, but lepidopterists can gain a good preview of what 
to expect from Jessica Speart's book by reading her blog: Excerpt:

I've met stamp collectors, coin collectors, Barbie doll
collectors and folks devoted to horror film memorabilia.
However, none come close to the bevy of butterfly
collectors I've recently met. Interestingly, they're all
men, each seemingly possessed by bugs with colorful
wings. They live and breathe butterflies. For collectors,
butterflies can be as dangerous and addictive as any drug.

So, what is it with these guys? Those with financial means
will go to extremes to obtain the specimens they want.
For some, it's the equivalent of collecting a Renoir or
Van Gogh. Still others are comparable to hunters lusting
after a trophy to nail on the wall. Except in this case,
their trophies are less than six inches rather than
the usual nine-foot-tall Kodiak bear.

Armchair collectors willingly shell out big bucks to
have others capture the butterflies they desire.
Their only requirement is that the specimens gathered
be absolutely flawless. One private collector paid a
group of young catchers to parachute onto a South
Pacific island and stealthily amass illegal butterflies
for him. Tales abound of hair-raising helicopter rides
in the Russian wilds to ensnare mountaintop butterflies,
while poaching gangs roam central Asia in search
ofrare and elusive winged insects.

On the other hand, most butterfly collectors aren't
such high rollers and have to obtain desired specimens
all on their own. Uh, oh. Big trouble. Ego, drive and
obsession are the traits required for the single-minded
pursuit of this goal. The downfall is that some of their
lives turn into a Greek tragedy. Collectors have plunged
into bankruptcy in order to underwrite their butterfly
trips. That means they can lose their house, their jobs
and even their spouse. Drugs and alcohol usually follow.

One obsessive butterfly collector neatly wrapped it up
for me. "We're driven toward something that doesn't
put food on the table and we can't take with us. It's
not all happiness and joy. There's a dark side here."
He offered a composite of the addicted collector.
"The guy's lost his eighth job in three years due to
calling in sick and taking off on collecting trips, and
he's depressed because no one else will hire him. As
a result, his wife has finally left him. Even so, he still
can1t control his obsession. Instead, he's become
hooked on speed, taken out mortgages, and run
through his family's savings while still chasing
after butterflies."

Though extreme, the scenario can be a reality. Become
personally involved with an avid butterfly collector and
you'll always come in second. Why do some collectors
go off the deep end into obsession? "Many of us have
Asperger's syndrome," my collecting friend confided.
I immediately looked it up in Wikipedia. Adults with Asperger's
exhibit social awkwardness and an extreme focus on a
particular interest or hobby.  Their behavior can best
described as "quirky." Okay, it was now starting to
make sense. No wonder they1re seduced by the
exotic and intricate world of butterflies. The insects
become their refuge through which they fall into a
bottomless pit of obsession.


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