Butterflies Aren’t Just Symbols

Some fads are harmless fun while others do serious damage. Butterfly releases at funerals and weddings wreak ecological havoc and need to stop. The Pete Moore Hospice House engages in a yearly June release of painted lady butterflies as a memorial — for a donation a butterfly will be released in honor of loved ones.

The North American Butterfly Association, the American Museum of Natural History, the National Wildlife Federation and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are against such releases of commercially farmed butterflies.

Commercial butterfly breeding resembles puppy mills. Butterflies can end up rife with bacterial, fungal and viral issues. They are trucked cross country and are capable of spreading devastating disease to local wild populations. Many arrive dead or dying. Such operations assure buyers their insects are disease free. This is a big business. Puppy mills claim the same thing.

The fitness of wild populations can be decreased by interbreeding with captive breed butterflies. Genes are introduced that are not optimal for local conditions. Captive butterflies may not orient properly or have their migratory physiology turned on.

Scientific studies demonstrate confusion is displayed by local wild populations when confronted with releases of farmed butterflies.

Threats to butterflies can end up as a threat to plant life. Butterflies are major pollinators of various plants.

Captive butterfly releases confuse wild population distribution and migratory studies. 

Better rituals exist. Planting pollinator gardens or trees, making donations to butterfly conservation groups, or having a musical or poetry event are fine alternatives. Butterflies are living creatures, not misguided symbolic expressions.

Karen DeBraal


Comments are closed.