The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists

The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists

by Peter Laufer

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Overview

This widely praised book chronicles Peter Laufer’s adventures within the butterfly industry and the butterfly underground. Laufer begins by examining the allure of butterflies throughout history, but his research soon veers into the high-stake realms of organized crime, ecological devastation, museum collections, and chaos theory. His ever-expanding journey of discovery throughout the Americas and beyond offers a rare look into a theater of intrigue, peopled with quirky and nefarious characters—all in pursuit of these delicate, beautiful creatures. Read this book, and your garden—and the world—will never quite look the same.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781599219271
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 05/04/2010
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 804,480
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Peter Laufer PhD is the author of more than a dozen books, including Forbidden Creatures (Lyons Press, forthcoming) and Wetback Nation: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border. He is the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. More about his work, which has received the George Polk, Edward R. Murrow, and other awards, at peterlaufer.com.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Relentless Quest for Tranquility ix

Chapter 1 Off to Nicaragua and an Introduction to Lepidoptera 1

Chapter 2 With the Purists Where Butterflies Fly Free 21

Chapter 3 My Successful Commercial Butterfly Release 40

Chapter 4 Diapause 64

Chapter 5 The Flight and Plight of the Monarch 77

Chapter 6 In Pursuit of the World's Most Wanted Butterfly Smuggler 103

Chapter 7 Death-defying, Globe-trotting Butterfly Hunting 128

Chapter 8 Butterflies versus National Security 155

Chapter 9 The Butterfly as Art 182

Chapter 10 Creation versus Evolution 204

Chapter 11 Butterfly Resurrection 228

Epilogue 253

Acknowledgments 256

Endnotes 259

Index 263

About the Author 272

Recipe



War weary after writing a book about Iraq and psychologically fatigued by a career of reporting bad and sad news, Peter Laufer jokingly said his next book would be about butterflies and flowers, simple analogies for peace and love. The result: an invitation to a butterfly preserve in Nicaragua where he soon discovered the behind-the-scenes world of collectors, criminals, and cops obsessed with one of nature’s most compelling miracles.
 
The Dangerous World of Butterflies chronicles Laufer’s adventures within the butterfly industry and the butterfly underground. He examines the allure of butterflies and recounts the constant role they have played throughout history and across cultures in mythology and art. But his research takes an unpredictable turn into the high-stake realms of organized crime, ecological devastation, species depletion, the integrity of museum collections, and chaos theory.
 
Along with beauty and renewal, the butterfly has become an unwitting symbol for greed and vanity. Laufer’s ever-expanding journey of discovery throughout the Americas and beyond offers a rare look into a theater of intrigue, peopled with quirky and nefarious characters—all in pursuit of these delicate, beautiful creatures.
 
Read this book, and your garden—and the world—will never quite look the same.

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Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
WildMaggie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What could be dangerous about butterflies? Investigative journalist Peter Laufer shows us there¿s a lot more to butterflies than just looking pretty. This book is not about science. Nor is this book about the cultural symbolism of butterflies. It¿s not even mostly about butterflies. It¿s about people. How and why people care so much about and do such outlandish thing with and for the most beautiful insects in creation. If you believe in creation, which also gets chewed over a little.Laufer made a casual remark that he needed a break from heavy topics like war, immigration policy, and prisons. So, what¿s his next book? Butterflies and flowers! But when a butterfly entrepreneur challenged him to really investigate the world of butterflies, starting with a jaunt down to Nicaragua, he bites. And what does he find? Why, danger and controversy, of course, and secrets and obsessions. And people with very strongly held but opposed views on butterflies and so much else. There¿s lots of ¿who knew?¿ facts and plenty of ¿who thought this up?¿ schemes. I doubt many readers will already be familiar with the role of butterflies across the wide range of issues covered¿conservation, small businesses, human relationships with animals and the environment, law enforcement, national security, art, and religion. This light survey of these topics for interested, but not expert, readers is a worthwhile read for a wide audience of people. You don¿t have to love butterflies to find something interesting here. And who doesn¿t love butterflies? Laufer even digs up a few who don¿t.
gmanpma More than 1 year ago
The title grabbed me, and I'm so glad it did. A terrifically enjoyable read that has stimulated me to more research and enjoyment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've raised and released butterflies as a hobby for a few years. The Dangerous World delves into: raising butterflies for sale (dead and alive), butterfly conservatories, environmental concerns and a great general background. Very thorough and well-balanced writing. I learned a great deal - while entertained. Enamored by butterflies? This is a must read!
Entomophile More than 1 year ago
This book gives a balanced view of differing opinions about butterfly collecting vs. butterfly observing. The perspectives of both amateur and professional butterfly enthusiasts are given about that issue as well as the question of the advisability of releasing living butterflies at weddings and other celebrations. The chapters about the collection and sale of threatened and endangered exotic tropical butterflies characterize the slide into criminal activity that may occur among unscrupulous collectors. The stories of such activity are intriguing, and should alert people interested in purchasing such exotic creatures to be wary of the effect that their behavior may have on the continuation of illegal activities, and more importantly, the effect that their behavior might have on the sustainability of natural populations of such beautiful insects.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago