Entomology (Study of Bugs)/illegal insect trade

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Question
My question is this:

How much of the online trade of preserved insects is actually legal?  How much demand is there for rare (or endangered) insects?  I know that traders from developed countries sometimes supply poor locals in the tropics with blacklights, etc. and pay for jewel scarabs, for instance.

Is it a bad idea to purchase preserved insect material from opnline dealers?

(If you're wondering, I am an avid insect enthusiast and professional Entomologist.  I have taken part in biodiversity expeditions in the past, and also volunteered to help understand the fragility of Hawaii's endemic insects, as well as the plants they live amongst.  I keep a small collection, but tend to donate most of my specimens to academic organizations that support conservation efforts.)

Answer
Alex:

Very good question!  I have no idea, but I imagine there are places you can go to for a detailed answer:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates all commerce in preserved and living specimens.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture governs import/export of live insects, including accidental import of potential pest species and beneficials to combat existing imported pests.

World Wildlife Fund is very aware of trade in animals and animal products.

Xerces Society might know something about the trade in insect specimens in particular, though that has not been their public focus to be sure.

Good for you on being a responsible collector.  I haven't purchased specimens lately myself, but I would trust BioQuip Bugs and Ianni Butterfly Enterprises to be responsible.  I cannot speak to others.

I'd love to take part in biodiversity expeditions, so feel free to let me know if you get wind of any!  Never been outside the U.S. for more than a day at a time (Mexico, Canada borders).

Eric
bugeric24ATyahooDOTcom

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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