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Those Pesky Pollinators

 
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OK this is my first post, so be gentle with me This past holiday weekend i took my children to the children's zoo in our town. While we were there the girls wanted to see the butterfly pavilion that had just opened. Once inside i was amazed by the large number of monarch butterflies. Knowing that they migrate south, i asked one of the zoo keepers at what point they released the butterflies to allow them to migrate. I was told that it was against the law to release them! When i asked the stunned WHY? i was told that the USDA considers them to be PESTS! and by releasing them they would alter local population numbers.

I just want to know when has pollinators been labeled as pests?

How can a insect that migrates and that is native to this country bother local populations of the the same species?

Not to mention how may butterflies die at the hand of chemicals sprayed on plants and flowers?

So how is releasing butterflies a bad thing?

I dont blame the zoo, they are just obeying the law, but the USDA on the other hand is a thing of pure evil! >
 
master pollinator
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Kendra Nelson wrote: i was told that the USDA considers them to be PESTS!



According to this website, most states allow Monarchs to be released, according to USDA rules: http://www.butterfliesetc.com/wedding-butterflies-for-release/usda-etc Looks like several western states don't allow release of Monarchs.

 
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While I can't comment on Monarch butterflies in other states, In Texas the USDA is working to restore their habitats.

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/tx/newsroom/releases/?cid=NRCSEPRD946806

In Florida, the Monarch do not migrate as they stay in Florida years round.  Florida needs people to plant more milkweed to feed the Monarchs.

Also Monarchs do not migrate to all states so if you are in a state that doesn't have a migration then that could be the reason.  Your zoo may have purchased eggs, pupa or chrysalis to hatch the Monarchs for display.
 
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An updated link for Tyler's post.

http://www.butterfliesetc.com/release-butterflies-for-special-events
 
master pollinator
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In Maine farmers are often paid subsidies to increase habitat for monarch butterflies.

In fact anyone can apply for grants for this under the WHIP Funding program which is Wildlife Incentive Program. You can contact you local Soil and Water Conservation Service Office or the USDA-NRCS on how to apply.
 
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I witnessed a Monarch migration in central Texas once. An amazing sight. I lived on a lake & was out skiing when it started. We just stopped & watched in awe for hours. Zillions in the air all day long, leaders & stragglers for several days actually, but one very intense day. One of nature's best displays of awesomeness. There was a randomness to their formations but it was obvious they were all acting as one large group. Not a single one bothered to stop & pollinate my squash. Ten years later I started keeping bees & that snowballed quickly. Have plenty of great squash now. Plenty of wildflowers too. Just in case any butterflies are hungry. They are all welcome anytime.
 
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It seems to me that when most people think of pollinators, they think of bees.
Hover flies, wasps, black flies, moths, butterflies, hornets, and several crawling insects (look closely at most aster flowers) are pollinators.
 
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Just speculating, but much like in fish farms, I would imagine these captive butterflies may harbor diseases wild populations may be unaccustomed to. Being fed and cared for, they have not been forced to prove their fitness and therefore if released may consume resources needed by wild butterflies and expose them to captive bred diseases, but themselves are less likely to survive and breed in the wild. Captive bred animals are often a far greater risk to wild ones than vice versa.
 
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