The news in this recent New York Times op-ed piece
is weird and a tad alarming. I didn’t even know butterflies were big
business, much less that brides are paying $95 per dozen for our winged
friends to be "released" to much fanfare. ($300 will buy them the full
"Fill the Sky" package.) Following in the sad and misguided tradition
of releasing doves, impressive photo-ops are created and what else matters, after all? But because we
humans are capable of learning from our mistakes (think kudzu) some are thinking twice about this practice, and there’s controvery:
So we have a classic industry-conservation conflict: the North American
Butterfly Association versus the International Butterfly Breeders Association.
The conservation group advocates banning the release of commercial butterflies
(an unlikely development) while the breeders deny that there’s a problem (a
risky wager). So what’s the answer?
get really interesting when the author suggests that butterflies for
student projects be subsequently killed – "We owe the butterflies a
quick and painless death" – and says:
If this is too harsh a lesson to teach in a culture that assiduously avoids
confronting death, then a savvy teacher could work with students to collect
local caterpillars, raise them and release the butterflies whence they came. That’s a real lesson in science — and ethics.
Discuss among yourselves.