No, butterflies don’t marry, but did you know some humans release butterflies at weddings (and funerals) as part of the ceremony?
Butterfly releases like this give Butterfly Conservation, as a wildlife charity, cause for concern.
The obvious worry is for the continued survival of the individual butterflies involved and whether they will live ‘ordinary’ lives where they can breed and perpetuate their species.
Another problem is that it gives us a headache telling apart butterflies which have arrived naturally from ones which have been released by humans. It is only by having an accurate picture of the local butterflies that we can try to help them.
In Dorset we’ve had this issue recently, with reports of several Monarch butterflies in the Canford Cliffs area. Some research has shown that there was a release of these butterflies at a local wedding.
Our Dorset Branch Chair, Nigel Spring, says:
The Monarch is an amazing butterfly, found in the United States and Canada. It makes the most astonishing 3,000 mile journey, going north at the start of the season to breed, and going through three generations, each living a month or so. The fourth generation will head south at the end of the season to winter in Mexico or southern California, and can live up to nine months. The spectacle of their migration, with tens of thousands coming together in a small area is truly awe-inspiring.
It is individuals from this late generation that occasionally get blown across the Atlantic and are seen in this country. Any Monarch seen before October is very unlikely to be a true migrant and no butterfly released here can breed, as the food plant for its caterpillars (milkweed) does not grow here.
Butterfly Conservation as an organisation is firmly against releasing butterflies at weddings and has been working with the police for years over incidents that involve non-native species, such as the Monarch butterfly. There is further information in the full text of Butterfly Confetti Policy
Releasing non-native species into the UK is illegal.
We do not want to spoil anybody’s special day, but we suspect that the bride and groom often do not realise the implications of their decision, so we are writing this to make everybody more aware. What is marketed as a delightful addition to the ceremony is actually not very kind, and we would plead with those involved to stop doing it.
We think we should admire these species’ amazing life pattern and not use them for live confetti and Butterfly Conservation take a very strong stance against this.
So please – spread the word. There are lots of alternatives to using live creatures to have a wonderful wedding, let’s use them.