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The Government wants your dead butterflies and moths

September 06, 2023 - 00:00
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The U.S. Geological Survey, USGS,, is conducting a study to help determine why there has been a drastic decline in the numbers of insects in the past few decades. In the last 20 years monarch butterflies have declined by about 90 percent.

The USGS is asking people to mail them already dead butterflies, moths and skippers or parts as long as they are at least 2 inches. They should not be collected alive. Mail them to: USGS LRC, 1217 Biltmore Drive, Lawrence, KS 66049. The specimens will help scientists identify factors that may be contributing to the decline.

This is a pilot program begun in April 2023 that includes six states along the Eastern monarch butterfly migration path: Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. The deadline to receive the insects was originally set for November 1, 2023. But, because various organizations and schools have expressed an interest in the program and because of the number of insects already received, it may be extended into 2024 or further.

Julie Dietze, USGS scientist-in-charge of the project said, “There are some questions that can’t effectively be answered without help from a lot of people. It’s what makes citizen science so special and valuable. Collections like this one are important because they have the potential to provide scientists now, and 20 years from now, access to specimens. Without the specimens it will be far more difficult to answer questions related to contaminants and environmental health.”

Information about how to prepare and mail the insects is at media/images/lepidop-tera flierjpg.