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Monarch caterpillar removed from a pesticide label

Community and ForumBlogMonarch caterpillar removed from a pesticide label

Lev Bely, 14.07.2012 13:33

Garden designer David Snow from Thousand Oaks, Southern California, US, insisted that monarch caterpillar (Danaus plexippus) would be removed from a pesticide label.

David Snow considered it wrong that the chemical company Ortho put the picture of this caterpillar on two products — Bug-B-Gon, and Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Insect Killer.

Hard to say why Ortho decided to illustrate the products with an image of the monarch butterfly, one of the most popular in America, to be presented as a harmful pest. In fact, monarch caterpillars feed on milkweed solely, not on anything else, all their three weeks of life, so apparently, they are not dangerous to garden plants.

David Snow noticed that pesticide label last winter and called right away to the Ortho's customer service to ask for the image would be changed. In the few following months Snow became a true headache for Ortho attacking them with complaints and stimulating people to defend the monarch butterfly which has been alarmingly reducing in number to be moreover a “pest star”. California's monarch population has fallen an estimated 80% over the last 15 years due to urbanization, drought, weed abatement programs and pesticides, said Scott Black, executive director of the nonprofit Xerces Society, a Portland, Ore.-based organization dedicated to conservation of invertebrates.

Snow's courtyard is full of milkweed in pots for his clients who are interested in raising monarch butterflies. That is additionally supported with T-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers and fence signs asking if you already “Got Milkweed?”

However, three weeks ago Ortho did not show any signs of considering the case, then Snow put a petition on some website and started gathering signatures so as Ortho would admit the mistake and change the image of the monarch caterpillar to one of a real pest.

At the beginning of July Los Angeles Times asked for comment from Ortho and was answered that "everything about this case has been forwarded to our marketing team. We consider this a very, very serious matter." The very next day Ortho informed LA Times that they updated the label “to ensure there is no confusion with the monarch butterfly caterpillars.” Few minutes later David Snow got a message from a company official: “Hi there, David. I just want to let you know I followed up on your calls, and we're changing the labels. Thanks for letting us know about your concerns.”

The Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com, The Republic, http://www.therepublic.com

Photo: monarch caterpillar D. plexippus, Gary Friedman, http://www.latimes.com

Raising D. Plexippus butterflies

All the rest posts on: species recovery, Pests, experience, DIY, USA


14.07.2012 23:43, Peter Khramov

Again, what the nice people they are...

17.07.2012 19:56, Alexander Birukov

Caterpillars actually can be rather harmful, not too much though. Last year I've got a colony of large tortoiseshell caterpillars (Nymphalis polychloros L.) in a pear tree at my country house. They did eat completely a 50—60cm tree branch, so what? It's nothing for a 5m spreading tree. I convinced my wife not to take them away. In that very year a huge twiggy bough of approximately 2m length fell off the tree because of the abundant crop of pears that caused more damage than the caterpillars. My wife was impressed.
P. S. Meanwhile, in this year the caterpillar colony reappeared on the same pear tree and even on that very branch what they'd been before. Didn't they forget their motherland! :)

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