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Old 08-08-2010, 08:42 PM   #1
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Default All aflutter: The flap over the mail order butterfly industry

All aflutter: The flap over the mail order butterfly industry
Adam Federman
Earth Island Journal
Fall 2008
Quote:
In the summer of 2007, Karen Oberhauser, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, posted a statement on her Web site, www.monarchlab.org, that reversed the thinking behind much of her professional career.

After nearly 15 years, Oberhauser made the somewhat surprising decision to stop distributing live monarch butterflies to teachers and students as part of an educational outreach program called “Monarchs in the Classroom.” Oberhauser’s brief Web site statement, entitled “No Live Monarch Distribution in 2008,” noted that mortality rates in her lab for the previous two years were higher than acceptable and that the “possible effects of releasing unhealthy monarchs into the environment” could no longer be justified.
Quote:
The exchange between Oberhauser and the commercial breeders was only the most recent debate in a now decade-long battle over the controversial practice of ceremonial butterfly releases. For the scientific community, the spread of disease, the possible infusion of non-adapted genes into local populations, and interference in the tracking and recording of wild butterflies are reasons why releases should either be severely limited or prohibited all together. In 1997, the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) issued a statement signed by a number of leading lepidopterists condemning the practice as a form of “environmental pollution.” The statement read: “There’s no need to release butterflies. They’re already free.”
Quote:
And even within the scientific community, there is hardly consensus on just how serious the problem is. Chip Taylor, a professor of entomology at the University of Kansas and founder of Monarch Watch, has defended butterfly releases as a way to educate the public.
All Aflutter | Earth Island Journal | Earth Island Institute
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:40 PM   #2
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Never thought releases were a good idea but supported the classroom raising. This article really makes you think about the consequences to any species bred in such numbers out of their natural habitat.

Quote:
When asked by teachers where they can purchase butterflies, Altizer urges them not to buy butterflies, but to plant a butterfly garden with native shrubs and flowers at their school. The butterflies will eventually come, she tells them.
If the teacher orders butterflies from a breeder, a good part of the lesson is lost, she says. “It teaches kids, where do butterflies come from? They come from the mail.”
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:45 PM   #3
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If you decide to raise butterflies for commercial purpose, to be released at weddings or other social occasions, then you are going to have to capture and immobilize adult butterflies for a few days or even a week. There is no way to avoid this, it is part of doing business. The butterflies may survive this treatment, but I don't see how it can be good for them. I might not be a "leading lepidopterist," but I support Karen on this one.
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:54 AM   #4
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I raise butterflies for educational purposes in my classroom. We do not order eggs/larvae from the mail, but raise eggs that we find in our garden. I have experienced Oe, the protozoan that is discussed in the article. Last year I had to euthanize dozens of chrysalides and butterflies. This year I am following strict procedures of cleaning and bleaching all materials used in the process.

I find the idea of ordering a 'butterfly kit' to be so silly. Students never learn about the food web when you are feeding larvae some food that's in a cup!
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Old 08-09-2010, 12:44 PM   #5
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Those raising and releasing butterflies for events or to sell claim they keep butterfly stock uninfected with diseases and test for Oe routinely (you can only test the adults, as far as I know). But I don't see how you could avoid all contagious disease and other parasitism. I just don't see that. The value of sanitizing the plant leaves is controversial...nothing has been really settled on that. I raise butterflies on a limited basis, but can't imagine doing it on a large scale operation, plus keeping adult butterflies in some kind of enclosure, which they'd have to do. I sanitize all containers and equipment between uses and try to be careful. And release the adult butterflies as soon as possible. I've seen the diseases and parasitism in the caterpillars and butterflies I raise.
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Old 03-22-2015, 02:47 AM   #6
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butterfly More Information on 'Butterfly Releases' from the Xerces Society

Xerces Society Policy on Butterfly Releases
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The transfer and release of butterflies for weddings, classroom activities, and other events may cause several problems from a conservation standpoint. By way of definition, this policy refers to the purposeful removal of butterflies from their point of origin or from a captive-bred source, transfer to another place, and release into the wild.
Quote:
Butterfly releases may present problems through the transfer of disease from wild habitats, laboratories, or industrial breeding facilities to other colonies, where die-off may result or diseases may just weaken wild populations and make them more susceptible to other stressors.3 In the past, laboratory populations of monarchs have been devastated by protozoan parasites.4
Quote:
Another threat of butterfly releases involves introducing unhelpful genes into local populations, which could negatively influence the survivorship potential of native butterflies. Genetic transfer can occur when released butterflies mate with wild butterflies and they produce offspring; the genetic make up of the offspring will consist of traits from both the wild and reared butterfly parents.
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In view of the above factors, the Xerces Society has adopted the following policy:
No butterflies should be released into the wild beyond the county of their natural origin, or in the case of bred butterflies, the county of origin of the breeding stock (or an equivalent area, in parts of Canada without counties).
Quote:
The following individuals support the Xerces Society policy on butterfly releases:
http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/upl...policy2012.pdf
.
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