By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Got bugs? U.S. Geological Survey collecting butterflies, moths
Monarch butterfly

Special to the Herald

If you find dead butterflies or moths around your house, don’t throw them away. Send them to Kansas.

You read that right.

Citizens in six mid-U.S. states are being asked to mail in deceased butterflies, moths, and skippers to help U.S. Geological Survey scientists establish a Lepidoptera Research Collection (LRC). More information can be found here: The pilot study for this citizen science invitation includes six states: Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

These specimens will help USGS scientists identify contaminants and environmental factors which may be contributing to the decline of insect populations. Citizen participation will ensure enough specimens throughout the nation are available to answer research questions.  

The deadline is Nov. 1. 

"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,” said Julie Dietze, USGS scientist-in-charge of the effort.

"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,” Dietze added.

The citizen science pilot began in April and based on the response and number of specimens received so far, the collection efforts may continue into 2024. The LRC will be made available to all scientists within the USGS to conduct research. States included in the pilot study were selected based on at least one of three factors:

·       Locality relative to the migration pathway of the monarch butterfly;

·       Presence of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and

·       Locality relative to the corn belt.  

The USGS Environmental Organic Chemistry (EOC) unit, located at the USGS Kansas Water Science Center, will specifically be looking at the occurrence of antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, and mycotoxins in Lepidoptera.

Collection requirements:

·       Insects must be already dead when collected.

·       Insects must be larger than two inches.

·       Put dead butterflies, moths, and/or skippers inside a resealable plastic bag. It is okay to combine and send damaged or not fully intact specimens

·       Freeze if not shipped within three days to aid in preservation

·       Place specimens inside sealed envelope with proper postage and mail first class via USPS.

Citizens can mail their specimens to: USGS LRC, 1217 Biltmore Dr., Lawrence, KS 66049.