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Oklahomans are asked to mail in dead butterflies, moths in the name of science

Holly Landkammer

If you happen to come across a dead butterfly or moth these next few months, the U.S. Geological Survey wants it. 

USGS scientists are asking Oklahomans and people in five other states to mail in the dead butterflies and moths as these insects’ populations continue to decline worldwide.

The researchers are looking into how environmental contaminants such as pesticides and antibiotics might contribute to shrinking butterfly and moth populations.

Scientists are focused on testing insects from agricultural states Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama and Georgia.

Researchers say resident participation will ensure enough insects across the country are available to answer research questions.

"Collections like this one are important because they have the potential to provide scientists now, and 20 years from now, access to specimens," said Julie Dietze, the lead-author of the USGS study. “Without the specimen, it will be far more difficult to answer questions related to contaminants and environmental health."

Any butterflies and moths people turn in must be larger than 2 inches and already dead when collected. Submissions can be made through Nov. 1.

The mailing address is:

1217 Biltmore Drive
Lawrence, KS 66049

For more information about how to mail in deceased insects for the study, view the project flyer below.

U.S. Geological Survey
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Xcaret Nuñez covered agriculture and rural communities for KOSU as a corps member with Report for America from June 2022 to September 2023.
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