Butterfly specimens--ethical?

bernergrrl(z5 IL)December 29, 2013

Hi all,

Would like to get some feedback about ordering butterfly specimens (would order ones native to my area) in order to show/share with the public when at various events.

I ordered a couple of butterflies before in order to do a couple of events with children, and I was thinking about ordering more because the last two were getting a little ragged.

Do you all think this is okay? I admit to feeling so many different ways about it. They source their butterflies from butterfly farms.

People love to handle the butterflies--I think getting to hold them is very important, even the adults were moved about being so close to one.

Just trying to increase exposure and awareness. To me it seems if people can see them up close as "specimens" they will be more likely to tune in when something flits by them in life.


Here is a link that might be useful: Butterflies

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Did you then release those butterflies? Butterflies aren't pets. They're wild.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 1:22PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Oh, no, sorry--they are dead. This is for the times of year when there aren't any butterflies (or caterpillars) around in my area.

When I rear butterflies, they are definitely released.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 4:23PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

I don' t take butterfly or moth specimens for any thing other than research (very limited for this purpose because I do not believe in killing them). My specimens for my display are those that die naturally or those that I found outside in my garden.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 2:36PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Guess my innocent thought was that these butterflies were from butterfly houses where the butterflies do ultimately expire from natural causes.

When I looked further into it, it looks like this particular business works with people who are able to conserve their forests by raising lepidoptera species for sale. It makes some sense to me--unfortunately, we live in a world where to rationalize conserving land, there needs to be some kind of profit.

So, I am still unsure of where I stand--I haven't found any butterflies in my yard or surrounding areas to use. I don't keep any adult butterflies that I raise.

To me, it seems in my very limited experience, when people are able to actually touch and see a butterfly close up, it creates a connection and an awareness, which can lead to someone being more willing to work to help out butterflies.

A great quote from Doug Tallamy: "Knowledge generates interest; interest generates compassion."

Still on the fence...thanks for your thoughts.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 2:46PM
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In my experience, knowledge does generates interest in a certain percent of people. Generating compassion for an insect is a lot harder...helps if the insect is pretty or has some practical use for humans. I think raising caterpillars and showing people the living caterpillars and a newly eclosed adult would be good. That's what some of the school teachers do. Of course, they have to be protected from harm also. There's also pictures and videos. Then there also those places (what are they called?)that have natural places for living cats and butterflies for public display, without selling them...very few of those. And butterfly gardens within public gardens at least give people a place to see more butterlflies...and maybe some cats.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 11:46AM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Butterflies are insects. If you want to talk about the morality of harvesting butterflies you mustn't discriminate other insects such as ants, roaches or the moth larva that is eating your vegetables. Or for that matter beheading a flower to give it to a loved one. If you have a valid reason, you are fine. The people in the butterfly farms are simply farmers who usually like what they are doing. Now compare that to the original developer of the plot of land under your house where the butterflies were truly killed upon the loss of the native, natural habitat. And to an auto factory worker making SUVs as well as the consumers buying them, which easily eachb have the ability to kill hundreds of native butterflies each. Or thousands if the driver is ecologically minded to specifically visit natural preserves and habitats.

The only place you will find an answer will be in your own heart. Try to ask others and it is guaranteed to attract strong opinions that have nothing to do with you - on both extremes. Rather that sweat it, my personal heart tells me to do what I want, which is never kill anything arbitrarily. When dealing with insect just to remember that by establishing the appropriate habitat, in just one season I have the power to make a small plague of any native butterfly. So I don't worry about the generally ecologically minded butterfly farmers any more than a lettuce farmer unless they are bent on world destruction (and haven't met with that). I do worry every day about what I am doing to enhance the world's natural diversity which is being pressured from all ends to wipe out native habitat. That is where the real killing occurs - with the collective destruction of habitat and ensuing extirpation of endemics; nothing to do with the indivudual in 99.9999% of the cases, hard as that is to understand when we see such beauty on the wing.

Good luck, your educational efforts don't go unnoticed and are certainly not arbitrary either!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 12:19PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Thank you all--do appreciate the different inputs. Re: butterfly gardens--I have done them at a school and a library and will do more hopefully this coming year around town.

These activities are in addition to all of the other typical butterfly education (gardens, etc).

Many children will never be taken to a butterfly house (and those species are generally non-native--exotic). Those are generally very privileged children and are usually children of the choir so to speak.

I am trying to branch out and reach audiences who generally have never experienced a butterfly (often because of the urban environment and landscaping practices) or would be terrified of one. The general public is not like the members of this wonderful forum.

Children are also very hands-on--that is their very nature, and when there are caterpillars out there, they will get to see those.

Using the butterflies was to engage children in ways they get engaged--being up close and holding something so wonderful and getting to study it, not behind a glass case.

Thanks again--just don't want you all thinking I am a thoughtless consumer of butterflies--have been butterfly gardening for a while now and am very active in my community promoting landscaping practices to increase butterfly populations--bordering on activism actually.

Again, thank you for you thoughtful discussion! :)

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 1:06PM
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There are many, many people who love to watch butterflies as they flit through the air slowly and gracefully. If you never have, you certainly should! Butterflies provide beauty in an often ugly world. They give us insight into the world of nature and how wonderful and complex it is. But the butterfly is much more than that.
Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on Earth. A butterfly garden is an easy way to see more butterflies and to help them, since many natural butterfly habitats have been lost to human activities like building homes, roads and farms. It is easy to increase the number and variety of butterflies in your yard.
Creating a butterfly garden should start with some serious research to learn which kinds of butterflies are native to your area. You can learn that from this book âÂÂAttract Butterflies To Your GardenâÂÂ.
Here are some points you should focus:
A. Make a list of all of the different kinds of butterflies you would like to attract, and then learn which flowers and plants they both feed on and lay eggs on.
B. Plant the âÂÂButterfly Host Plantsâ to lay their eggs on.
C. You can add some butterfly garden accessories like a Butterfly House, which has slots the ideal size for keeping birds out while giving butterflies protection from the wind and weather, and are beautiful garden decorations. You could offer an additional nectar source close by to supplement your flowers.
D. Once you have designed and started your butterfly garden, you can be proud that you have made a habitat for butterflies in your own yard, which helps with the conservation of the many species of quickly disappearing butterflies today. You will certainly want to place your favorite outdoor furniture near so that you can enjoy all of your visitors day after day.

Here is a link that might be useful: Attract Butterflies To Your Garden

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 11:47PM
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