Raising Butterflies
Teachers Reference and Video Supplement

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Note: This supplement is indexed (0:00:00) by the time counter in the lower left corner of the quicktime window. The YouTube counter (in the lower right corner), starts over with each section.

Download the movie here (222 MB)

Raising Butterflies
Captive Breeding

Feeding Butterflies at Reiman Gardens Butterfly House (youtube)

Calif. Dept of Education

Species & Hostplant index
Part 1:
(0:00:02) Title/Intro.
(0:00:09) Gender ID
(0:01:09) Gender ID by looks
(0:03:02) Brush footed butterflies (Nymphalidae)
(0:03:51) Nymphalid genitalia
(0:05:24) Swallowtails (Papilionidae)
(0:05:41) Swallowtail genitalia
(0:06:03) Gender ID by behavior
(0:06:44) Male behavior
(0:07:47) Female behavior
(0:08:27) Catching & Handling Live Butterflies
(0:08:51) When to catch butterflies
Part 2:
(0:11:16) Temporary storage.
(0:12:20) Larvae, Temp, Humidity, Hostplants
(0:12:27, 0:13:27, 0:14:11) Cages & Nets
(0:13:46) Predators & parasites.
(0:14:15) Monarch protozoa (website)
(0:15:13) Wasps
(0:16:17) Tachinid flies
(0:16:50) Tachinid ID
Part 3:
(0:17:51) Adult butterfly food sources
(0:18:28) Artificial nectar
(0:19:01) Economics, time, cost & materials
(0:20:11) Sanitation & Diseases
(0:22:00) Small larvae cages
(0:22:46) Changing fresh food & Cleaning larvae cages
(0:23:39) Handling small larvae
(0:24:19) Options for keeping hostplant fresh
(0:25:11) Credits
Bibliography, Website Links, and Credits
A: Environmental Concerns
B: Synthetic Hostplant Recipe, Materials, Sources
Why People Collect Butterflies, an Irish folk tale


Bill Cornelius

This video is a 25 minute course on raising butterflies, so some things have to be left out. The object is to stimulate interest by identification with butterflies specifically, and the science of Biology as a means to get there. Mail order butterflies are a fun idea (and I wish I'd thought of it), but they're still a vicarious experience because everything is supplied, the main thing the buyer does is release them. This video allows the class or student to step into the life cycle of most butterflies at any point and build a new generation.
Subjects not covered, but alluded to are: taxonomy, genetics, evolution and population dynamics, mimicry & species survival strategies. I have avoided academic debates (except for appendix A: Environmental Concerns) while maintaining basic principles consistant with elementary science curricula. People wouldn't enjoy bugs if they're horrible & tedious, but would if they're beautiful & fascinating. So the intent is to present butterflies as something kids might want to understand and nurture instead of collecting as trophies.
For this reason I'd like to recommend that the teachers reference not be used as a resource for tests but rather to provide answers or ask leading questions.
My rampant anthropromophizeing is scientifically "improper". But since people respond to hormonal messages too, which include social cueing and pheromones, just like butterflies, I believe that objectivity with regard to behavior is impossible: how does one not anthropromophize?
In sketching out the main points, some statements in the video are used specifically when they are also valid generally, for example: "Nymphalid females have ways of dumping pesky males", so do other families though I don't say so because of the time & space to cover them.
Addendum is included throughout this reference to enlarge on topics from the video.
Bill Cornelius

Butterfly Species & Hostplant index

and a few predators, in order of appearance:

Listing shows first reference in bold: butterfly common name: butterfly scientific name: hostplant common name.

0:00:02 Buckwheat Copper: (Lycaena gorgon) - Buckwheat.
Begin Gender ID by looks
0:01:09 Monarch: (Danus plexippus) - milkweeds (at least 10 species).
0: 02:13
Pairs in order:
Diana Fritilary: (Speyeria diana) - Violets.
Alfalfa butterfly: (Colias eurytheme) - Alfalfa & legumes.
Parnassus butterfly: (Parnassus Clodius) - Bleeding Hearts.
Apache Fritilary: (Speyeria apacheana) - Violets.
Sara Orange tip: ( Anthrocharis sara sara) - mustard, cabbage.
Goatweed Butterfly: (Anaea andria) - Goatweed.
Dogface Butterfly: (Colias cesonia) - False Indigo.
Brush footed butterflies (Nymphalids):
0:03:02 Painted Lady: (Vanessa Cardui) - Thistles &/or Holyhock.
0:03:11 Anglewing: (Polygonia sylvestris) - Nettle, Hops.
0:03:16 Lorquins Admiral: (Basalarchia lorquini) - Willow.
0:03:26 Mourning Cloak: (Nymphalis antiopa) - Willow, Poplar, Elm.
0:03:51 Pipevine Swallowtail: (Battus philenor) - Pipevine.
0:04:25 Mylita Crescent: (Phyciodes mylita), - Thistle.
0:04:57 Painted Ladies ( see 0:03:02).
0:05:25 Pale Swallowtail: (Pterorus eurymedon) - Apple, Cherry.
Swallowtail Case: by genus & hostplant:
Graphium (the black & white stripe one) - Papaya.
Pterorus (the larger yellow ones w/ long tails) - Apple, Cherry.
Papilio (the smaller yellow & black ones w/ short tails) - Anise, Parsley, Carrot, Hemlock.
Battus (top row black ones) all the dark ones mimic them because Battus eats poisonous hostplants - Pipevines.
0:05:41 female swallowtail genitalia: Pipevine Swallowtail (see 0:03:51).
0:05:52 male swallowtail genitalia: Pale Swallowtail (see 0:05:25).
Male behavior:
0:06:44 Lorquins Admiral: (see 0:03:16).
0:07:24 Spring Azure male group (Celastrina ladon) - Ceanothus.
0:07:31 Pale Swallowtail male group (see 0:05:25).
Female behavior
0:07:47 Pipevine Swallowtails several: (see 0:03:51).
0:08:09 Buckeye pair: (Precies coenia) - Plantain, Speedwell.
0:08:30 Lorquins Admiral pair (see 0:03:16).
0:09:46 Painted Lady: (see 0:03:02).
0:10:44 Buckeye (see 0:08:09).
0:11:15 California Sister in envelope: (Adelpha bredowi californica) - Oak, Chinqapin.
0:12:01 Anise Swallowtail in clothespin, plastic bag & net cage:(Papilio zelicaeon) - Anise, Parsley, Carrot, Hemlock.
Laurel Godley intro.
0:13:22 California Sisters in cage: (see 0:11:15).
0:13:41 Monarch in Laurels cage: (see 0:01:09).
Predators & parasites -

0:13:46 Monarch (see 0:01:09)
0:15:04 Pipevine Swallowtail Chrysalis with ants. - (see 0:03:51).
0:15:16 California Oakworm Moth chrysalides (Phryganidia californica) - Oak.
0:15:31 Pipevine Swallowtail Larva with Braconid wasp - (see 0:03:51).
0:15:33 old Pipevine Swallowtail Chrysalids, parasitized by Brachymeria wasps. - (see 0:03:51)
0:15:43 Tobacco Sphinx Moth (Cotesia congregata) with wasp cocoons (not eggs).
0:15:50 old Pipevine Swallowtail Chrysalides, parasitized by Brachymeria wasps - (see 0:03:51).
0:15:58 Pipevine Swallowtail Chrysalis, with Brachymeria wasp.
0:17:01 Noctuid moth larva parasitized by tachinid flies.
0:17:03 Pipevine Swallowtail larva predated by ladybug larva.
0:17:15 Flight cage / breeding enclosure:
Mourning Cloak eggs on willow. (see 0:03:26)
Monarch feeding on Zinnia. (see 0 :01:09)
Adult food sources
0:17:59 Western Bog Fritilary (Boloria eunomia) - violets.
0:18:09 three Mourning Cloaks on overripe apricots (see 0:03:26).
Artificial nectar
0:18:55 California Tortoise Shell 60 pupae in net. (Nymphalis californica) - Wild Lilac (Ceanothus).
Diseases / Sanitation
0:20:21 Monarch larvae in small jars 2nd & 3rd instars (see 0:01:09).
0:20:31 Mendocino Silkmoth Larvae (Saturnia Mendocino) 2nd instar - Manzanita. (Aristolochia tomentosa)
0:20:43 dead Pipevine Swallowtail Larva. (see 0:03:51)
0:20:47 Mendocino Silkmoth Larvae 3rd - 4th instars (see 0:20:31).
0:22:01 110 Morning Cloak larvae 1st instar, (see 0:03:26).
Feeding larvae and changeing boxes
0:23:18 Monarch Larvae, 4th - 5th instar (see 0:01:09).
0:23:20 Anise Swallowtail Larvae pupating (see 0:12:01).
0:23:22 Pipevine Swallowtail Larvae pupating (see 0:03:51).
0:23:30 Mendocino Silkmoth Larvae 2nd instar (see 0:20:31).
0:24:28 Pipevine Swallowtail Larva eating (see 0:03:51).
0:24:38 Anise Swallowtail Larvae in net (see 0:12:01).
0:25:11 Male & female Buckwheat Copper (see 0:00:02).
The female has spots, the male is solid color, he's dusting his scent scales onto the females antennae. His scent patch is the small rusty spot in the middle next to the forewings leading edge. The yellow flowers are the hostplant (buckwheat).
0:25:40 End.

Part 1: Gender ID.

There are several ways to determine butterfly gender:
Female Male

Abdomen crosssection:

(1) the way they look. (0:01:09)
(2) the way they act. (0:06:44)
(3) if they lay eggs.
(4) autopsy.

1): by looks:

All species of butterfly Males are usually:

  • smaller because they have less weight (eggs) to carry, they need a greater strength to weight ratio (less wing area to muscle size) for better agility.
  • have scent scales to announced their gender to a female. (also seen on the forewing of the male buckwheat copper at the beginning and end of the video, he's dusting the female's antennae with his scent) Natural selection favors healthier, less worn males with more scent scales.
  • more brightly colored for.
    • A poison warning.
    • A flashy decoy so predators will chase the agile one, while the heavier and less obtrusive female hides.
    • A territorial advertisement to other butterflies.
  • have more pointed forewings for flight aerodynamics, built for speed, chase & evasion.
  • have skinnier abdomens: no eggs.
Females of some genus produce all their eggs at once (such as
Brushfoots and Whites), and some kinds lay only a few every day (such as Swallowtails and Monarchs) These only produce eggs as they need them, so their abdomens aren't usually full.

2): By behavior

Male Swallowtails Drinking
(Pterorus eurymedon)

Males are active and territorial, they chase anything that moves. They react first to visual stimulation and chasing is a survival trait which requires no strategy (brains are heavy). Some will even chase birds but those butterflies tend to be poisonous. Butterflies are also attracted by pheromones which they detect at closer range with their antennae. Some moths with fern-like antennae can detect a female up to two miles away.

The last recourse of gender determination

Females are not interested in visual advertisement, their attention is on the ground cover rather than other butterflies, where a male perches conspicuously on the extremities of a plant, the female flutters around and through it.
The female Pipevine Swallowtail at (0:07:47) has already been recently bred, and her pheromone message has changed. It's unknown if the message has been turned off or if another is produced that actually repels males. Most Nymphalids don't share that messaging system.
The escape "technique" used by the female Buckeye at (0:08:09) is not rationally planned or passed from mother to daughter. She continues to fly upward because alighting would be the next step of courtship. It's thought that when she gets up where she can't see the ground, she becomes immobile to quit attracting attention, so she drops.

Part 2: Handling Live Butterflies

The right way to hold them

( 0:09:15) Nets, Catching, Handling, & Temporary storage:

A really lightweight net improves chances of success. Heavy nets are like swinging baseball bats at snowflakes. Here's my lightweight net construction recipe:
Handle: The bottom four feet of a graphite ocean fishing rod. Stream & lake casting rods are often made of the top section and rod makers discard the lower part.
Rim: Anything but iron. 1/8 inch thick aluminum strap is best, A cut down "small size" plastic hula hoop or a large bamboo embroidery hoop are light but not as durable. Attache those hoops to the handle with two aluminum brackets bent to an "L" such as recycled from old lawn furniture. Use fiberglass packing tape to secure it to the handle. Then cover the fiberglass tape with black plastic electricians tape to protect it from the sun.

Sweeping upward

It's better to sweep up under the butterfly rather than sweep down on them, sweeping down is hard on the net, you might hit the ground or bushes or kill the butterfly, and it's easier for the butterfly to dodge by diving because gravity is working for them. If they have a net below, they have to work hard to fly upwards. If the net hits bushes or grass, it can pick up twigs, foxtails, or thorny seeds which can shred a butterfly.

Plastic bag

Temporary storage
(0:11:14) "triangle" envelopes can be made of onion skin tracing paper. Plastic bags offer more handling area than clothespins, if being passed around among a group. But the plastic sometime contains chemical residues that affect the butterfly and make them confused or "friendly" when released, and easy prey for predators. So sniff inside several brands to avoid "plastic smell" before choosing. If you keep a butterfly in the refrigerator at home, the frost-free setting will soon dehydrate them and they may die. Only use a refrigerator or cooler for a few hours, unless you have one that maintains a set humidity. (like for live bait). Never put them in the freezer.

Releasing butterflies, either raised or caught should be done in the same area they originally came from. The USDA has placed a fine of $10,000 for anyone transporting live insects across state lines without a government permit, even for butterflies common in both states. There is some disagreement about this policy. (see Appendix A)

Part 3:

Larvae, (0:12:20) Hostplants, Flight Cage,

You only know they were sick after they're dead

Most larvae don't like too much humidity, if the container fogs up or develops droplets, put in a piece of paper towel to absorb moisture and/or allow more ventilation. That much humidity also breeds disease. Never sprinkle water on the leaves for them to drink, rain is generally bad for caterpillars and they sometimes drown. For more on disease, see Appendix A, and Video Credits.

The best air temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees F.

Larval diets

should be presented in such a way that it will allow the frass (poops) to fall clear and not collect in contact with the food. Commercial Painted Lady kits have glass jars with netting for the larvae to grip. The jars are supposed to be inverted so that the food is at the top, it also dries out more slowly there. (nice idea) A runner up might be "syntho-hostplant appetizer cubes" hours d'ovure on a toothpick, stuck in Styrofoam or a dissecting tray, covered with a layer of net (to crawl on). Then place Saran Wrap or a jar over the top so it won't dry out before it's eaten. It is possible to feed food amendments like B vitamins to larvae by painting some on the hostplant leaves. A condiment brand name is Marmite (yeast extract) available in Health Food stores or Delicatessens. For synthetic food formula, see Appendix B.

Keeping hostplants fresh:

A florists flower vial

There's a whole mythology of keeping hostplants fresh, generally calling for submersion of the stem end of the plant in water. Some suggestions taken from wizened florists are:
  • Put in a cup of Sprite (soft drink) to a quart of water.
  • Use only bottled or distilled water, (no chlorine or bacteria).
  • One Aspirin to a cup of water.
  • Cut a bucket full of willow twigs & leaves and fill with water, when the water turns black, decant to hostplant, or stick hostplants in the bucket. Keeps all winter or up to 2 weeks in summer. If the willows start roots, it's ok, but when they sprout leaves, start over. (unless you're raising Morning Cloaks or Admirals, then plant them in big pots)
  • Wrap the stems of woody plants in submerged sphagnum moss.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the stems cleanly at an angle under water to expose more cambium and trim them again if they begin to dry before they're eaten, or if the cuts start looking scummy.
  • Keep them cool (but not the larvae).
  • Extending Life of Cut Flowers (mastergardeners.org) They advise using bleach, but it has a bad effect on caterpillers.
Ants attacking a butterfly chrysalis

There are two main ways to put the larvae and host plant together. Both take place within an enclosed net or cage to protect the larva from predators and keep them from wandering off when they're ready to spin their cocoon:
  • Put a cut plant in the cage with the larva.
  • Bring the larvae to the un-cut plant and construct a net to protect them.

Shake or spray the hostplant, befor placeing caterpillars on it, to dislodge any spiders or other predators (that means everything).

Caterpillars in general show determination to drown themselves whenever possible, by cralling down the stems and remaining underwater in the vase till they expire. This is bad for them (duh). So seal the tops of water containers with saran wrap or cardboard and poke small holes for the plant stems.

Butterflies attracted to UV reflecting beads.

It's possible that wild butterflies in a breeding cage might take awhile to find any food that's not a flower. They're attracted to Ultra Violet reflecting flowers so they'll locate a feeding dish easily if you put in a few plastic beads. White plastic Pearl beads from any hobby shop reflects bright blue/white more strongly than many uv reflecting minerals. It's easier and cheaper to find but I don't know if their chemical composition is detrimental, it doesn't seem to be.

Bibliography, Website Links, and Credits

The Butterflies of North America by James A Scott
Published by Stanford University Press 1986

A Lepidopterists Handbook by Dr. Richard Dickson Published by
The Amateur Entomologist's Society, 1985
155 Hounslow Road, Hanworth Middlesex, England.

Advances and Challenges in Insect Rearing by E.C. King and N.C. Leppla,
Published by the USDA Agriculture Research Service. 1984

Tachinid Times, issue 14, feb 2001
Published by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Website Links

Butterfly Flower Gardening:
Serenata Flowers
Kremp Florists
Wikipedia:Category:Butterflies :)
E-butterfly Get an account. Create an online virtual collection. Submit discoveries. Access and contribute to sighting databases.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Where do Butterflies come from?
Gaia Nature, Canadian butterfly breeder.
Butterfly Farming in Papua New Guinea (BOSTID, 1983)
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Butterflies of America
forbutterflies.org A new Butterfly Association, check it out.
IBBA International Butterfly Breeders Association, Inc.
Butterflies and Moths of North America
Butterflies In Your Playground Kid projects, links and info.
Interactive key to identify Noctuidae (little brown moths) of North America
Bill Oehlke, worlds best silkmoth site, also orders for cocoons
Georgia Lepidoptera
Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of the French Antilles
Interstate butterfly transport permit info:
North American Butterfly Association (ask questions, pros reply)
Butterfly projects for kids
The Lepidopterist's Society
Commercial Larval Diets Southland, and Bio-Serv. Also see appendix B: Synthetic hostplant recipe
Entomological Equipment BioQuip

Video Credits

Parasitized Sphinx larva (Cotesia congregata) photo by Joe Ogrodnick
Cornell University NYState Agricultural Experiment Station.

Monarch Protozoa photo by Jacob Groth

Monarch protozoa: Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, Photo by Jacob Groth
Swallowtail Farms, Inc.

Diseases & Parasites : Chip Taylor, University of Kansas, Entomology Monarch Watch

Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus

Yellow jacket w/ Armyworm caterpillar: photo by:
W.G.Wellington, AAFC, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Tachinid: Compsilura concinnata (Meigen) photo by B. Cooper,J. O'hara, Tachinid Times 14 pdf,
Effects of the introduction of Compsilura concinnata (Meigen) into North America.
issue 14, feb 2001

Tachinid: Myiopharus macellus (Rheinhard) photo by Larry D. Charlet,
Research Entomologist at Northern Crop Science Laboratory,
Agricultural Research Service, USDA Fargo, N. Dakota

Tachinid photos used with permission of Dr. James E. O'Hara, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

European tachinid from an original photo by Chris Raper, 2001

Larva and pupa parasitized by Tachinid flies: photo by Prof. Baronio, Agri- Entomology, Univ. Bologna, Italy. Tachinid Times, issue 14, feb 2001

Also special thanks to Laurel Godley, & my Kid actors: Cloe & Tyler Grinberg, Diana Boswell, Gracie Martin, Charlotte Barker & a couple of Walk-ons.

Appendix A: Environmental Concerns

The following was a list of the American lepidopteran livestock species that could be transported across state lines without a permit as of Dec 2001, however , the list was later revised to mean "under consideration". So check with APHIS permits about plant pests first for USDA government permits. Email APHIS.Web@aphis.usda.gov for the latest.

Actias luna (Luna Moth)
Antheraea polyphemus (Polyphemus moth)
Bombyx mori (Commercial Silk moth)
Citheronia regalis (Regal moth)
Eacles imperialis (Imperial moth)
Ephestia kuhniella (Mediterranean flour moth)
Hyalophora cecropia (Cecropia silkmoth)
Hyalophora euryalus (Ceanothus silkmoth)
Hyles lineata (White-lined sphinx)
Manduca sexta (Tobacco Hornworm)
Manduca quinquemaculata (Five-spotted hawkmoth)
Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral)
Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady)
Vanessa virginiensis (American Lady)

My own opinion is that restricting the import and sale of lepidopteran predators (wasps and tachinids) would do more to protect butterfly populations than licensing and restrcting the evolvement of the very people who wish for butterflies to thrive.

An exchange concerning butterfly releases between
Dr. Paul Cherubini (for), and Prof. Patrick Foley (against).

Subject: Re: gene pool and releases
Date: 18 Jun 2001 00:42:49 -0700
From: @sabre.net (Paul Cherubini)
Organization: None
Newsgroups: sci.bio.entomology.lepidoptera

Paul Cherubini wrote:

(quoting Pat Foley)
> Every time we see some general claim that there is no
> scientific basis for worry about nonlocal butterfly releases we should
> recognize these claims for what they are:

> 1) optimistic guesses,
> 2) doubtful, based on evidence from humans and other mammalian species well studied medically
> 3) plausible only because no major disasters have occurred so far.

Pat, what are your specific worries about the potential harm of shipping Monarchs or Painted Ladies randomly anywhere within the USA? What reasonable theoretical and/or empirical evidence can you provide to support these worries?


1. Are you worried about the potential to alter the gene pool of Monarchs and Painted Ladies? If so, five genetic studies involving monarchs and two involving Painted Ladies have revealed no clear differences among samples tested within the USA. Monarchs and Painted Ladies are both low Fst butterfly species.

In the past you have stated the following concern about Fst: "It does not deal with all the details and does not identify and reveal the uniqueness of the all the small populations...much of the future of a lineage lies in rareish events in small populations."

Your concern could be reasonable if there was evidence that small, reproductively isolated populations of Monarchs and Painted Ladies exist within the USA. But the many genetic studies have found no clear evidence that any reproductively isolated populations of these two species exist within the USA.

Now lets assume the worst - that all these genetic studies to date have failed to detect significant differences of some kind like disease resistance to a certain parasite or complex of unstudied pathogens. Then what are the potential theoretical consequences?

Population geneticist Bruce Walsh has explained the potential theoretical consequences in the following way:

"for a gene to spread that is opposed by selection (all those bad genes the no-release folks are worried about), it must be pumped into the population (via migration) at a rate which exceeds that at which it is removed. For example, if the gene as a 5% reduction in fitness, one must pump in migrants equal to 5% of the entire population each generation just to keep the gene in place, much less cause it to spread."

"suppose the worst case: that the western monarch indeed harbors a killer strain absent in the eastern population. Western monarchs would also have to have evolved defensive genes to counter this parasite, and these would be cospread with the parasite, minimizing the fitness effects. Such genes are highly liked to be single gene ( as opposed to polygenic) and hence readily transmitted along with the parasite."

Since wild Monarch and Painted Lady populations number in the tens to hundreds of millions and commercial breeders release only hundreds of thousands, there is no reasonable theoretical evidence here that these releases pose any potential of altering the disease resistance of the wild populations.

As far as empirical evidence is concerned, for the past 100+ years we have seen both monarchs and painted ladies thrive despite continual human assisted movement across the USA via planes, trains, trucks, automobiles and ships as well as huge changes in the abundance and prevalence of their caterpillar host plants.

Your concern has been:

> there is not enough evidence to speak very securely about the
> geographic distribution of infectious diseases in butterflies and how
> critical is isolation to avoid endemic (enzootic if you must) and
> epidemic outbreak dangers?

Despite 45 years of rearing tens of thousands of caterpillars collected in the wild, no one has found any devastating parasite or pathogen of monarchs or painted ladies. Breeders can confidently collect thousands of wild caterpillars and expect less than a 2% loss due to any factor other than tachinid flies or hymenopteran parasitoids (the latter are rare in monarchs)

There are no geographically or reproductively isolated populations of monarchs or painted ladies in the USA.

Breeders are logistically and financially unable to ship out substantial numbers of heavily diseased adult monarchs or painted ladies because such individuals are too weak to fly, survive overnight shipping or mate and lay eggs if released. (Customers do not pay for imperfect butterflies).

20% of all breeders produce 80% of all the monarchs and painted ladies shipped for release. The largest monarch breeder has samples of their adults inspected and certified free of known parasites and pathogens by an insect pathologist.

In sum, I am unaware of any reasonable theoretical and/or empirical evidence that would suggest random nonlocal butterfly releases of Painted Ladies or Monarchs within the USA pose anything more than a negligible risk of causing a disease epidemic.

Dr. Paul Cherubini, Placerville, Calif.

Subject: Re: The Other, Politically Correct Bug Release Industry that is 30 times bigger
Date: 18 Jun 2001 08:12:46 -0700
From: @csus.edu ( Patrick Foley)
Organization: CSUS, Biological Sciences
Newsgroups: sci.bio.entomology.lepidoptera

Paul and other leps listers,

Paul Cherubini makes some good points with his recent listings on diseases and on "beneficial introductions". I would sum them up (although his posts are interesting and not to be neglected) in this way:

1) Nature has already been scrambled by human activities.
2) Monarchs seem to be doing ok so far.
3) Therefore a little more messing with them is justified as a practical matter.
4) Therefore it is unscientific to oppose nonlocal releases.

There are many arguments that could be made against these points (for example, most biological control releases are made explicitly to correct a previous human blunder or accident), and I have made some of them in the past posts Paul refers to. Instead I want to make just one point.

As a practical matter, I do not try to put an end to Monarch releases for some of the reasons Paul mentions,

Our knowledge of parasite (broad sense) dynamics and evolution, and of phylogeography do not justify these releases, they simply prevent us from constructing a risk analysis that we can agree on objectively. More work is needed (the ecologist's mantra).

Out of here,
Patrick Foley


Paul Cherubini wrote:

> Mike Quinn posted the first part of the following to dplex-list a, four
> years ago:

> Coulson, Jack R., compiler. Releases of Beneficial Organisms in the
> United States and Territories-1992. U.S. Department of Agriculture,
> Miscellaneous publication No.1505, 529 pp.

> "Well over 20 million individuals of at least 151 species of insect and
> mite parasites and predators, almost exclusively of foreign origin,
> were released against at least 79 insect and mite pests, also
> predominantly introduced species, in the United States and its
> Territories in 1982. Also released that year were over 9 million
> individuals of 21 species of exotic natural enemies of 18 species of
> introduced weeds. In addition 7 species of pollinators and other
> beneficial organisms were released. These releases (from either field
> collections or cultures of foreign origin) or recolonization (from
> previously established populations in the United States) were made in
> 45 States and the District of Columbia in 1982. Shipments of 94
> biological control agents and pollinators were sent from U.S. facilities
> to foreign countries in 1982. Also listed in this report are the
> numerous people in more than 400 Federal, State, university,
> Territorial, private, and foreign facilities engaged in biological control
> and other importation, release, and related activities in1982."...


There is one imported Tachinid: Compsilura concinnata, which is thought to be largely responsible for decreases in eastern silkmoth populations (Tachinid Times #14 PDF). But there are other unverified causes, in the 1850s it was common for large silkmoths to be seen flying around the gaslights at the US Congress building in Wash. DC.

Th' Navarro Beach Funnies, 1 Mar '93

Appendix B: Synthetic Hostplant recipe

An Irish Folk Story: Why People Collect Butterflies

Local Phenomena: A Butterfly Explosion

copyright Bill Cornelius 2001
Video copies may be obtained from
WS Cornelius Enterprises, POBox 57, Albion CA 95410
email: billcor@mcn.org