Would You Pull the Wings Off a Butterfly...

share_ohMay 10, 2007

for a million dollars?

This was a Scruples question a friend asked years ago and it has always stuck in my mind.

I think of all the good things I could do with a million dollars... but I honestly don't think I could pull the wings off a butterfly.

But I could easily squash a spider or other creepy crawler, there's just something about a butterfly I guess!

The thread on to kill or not to kill made me think of this.


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I hear ya...it's the "beauty" versus "ugly" thing...like we have no problem exterminating cockroaches, because they're "nasty", but wouldn't hurt a butterfly.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 9:14AM
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I'm the kind of person who will take bugs outside instead of killing them and I watch my step when possible to make sure I'm not squashing them!

However, One Million Dollars? Invested properly this liquid amount could secure my financial future and allow my husband and I to seek the endeavors that our hearts truly desire. That would certainly be hard to pass up, no matter how devestated I would be perfomring the deed.

Those who would choose the money would then have the delima of choosing how far they would be willing to go beyond the butterfly wings. Spider legs, rat tails, rabbit ears, etc, etc.

Hard question to answer unless put in the situation...

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 1:48PM
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Those wings are probably worth more than a million dollars . . . to the butterfly. Nope, guess I'd have to continue living the luxurious life of the middle class.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 10:03AM
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I couldn't do it, the way I view myself is worth more than money.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 5:01PM
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I'm sure I could do it but it's weird that I would not be able to dock the tail of a puppy for $1m. Heck I could not even hit or slap a puppy for that money.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 9:44PM
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I would..... Then in memory of him, I'd plant the most fantastic butterfly garden in the world for all his living relatives. :-)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 10:21PM
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acorn, you put it exactly as i would. Material things have never meant that much to me as long as i have a roof over my head,a comfortable bed, and enough to eat i am resonably happy.I have to live with myself and pulling the wings off a butterfly for money would be (to me) like selling my soul.
What is the differance in a butterfly and a roach? The roach would take over my home and maybe give me a life threating illness. I would'nt kill a roach for money either just for my survival.
Good Thread.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 3:10AM
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While I am not materialistic I am one who admitted I would most likely do it. In fact, my husband and I are minamilists and do not hold on to many material possesions.

However, financial security extends much farther then creature comforts. My husband was born with a congenital birth defect that required over a half of dozen very invasive surgeries by the time he was 15. He spent most of his young years at UCLA and traveling to the Mayo Clinics. He lived in AZ so each trip to UCLA cost a lot. Air fair, hotel for 2-3 months at a time for his mom, etc, etc.

Had his grandparents not been financialy secure he may have not been able to have the surgeries he needed to function properly because there were only a few surgeons in the country familar with this defect at the time and who could perform the surgeries.

When I said financial securtity I think of things like this. Not nice cars and mansions, but the ability to provide for a sick family member. As I am sure most of you know, insurance companies do not cover many life saving treatments. And even the ones they do cover require coinsurance and deductable payments.

Or, what if the primary bread winner was hurt and couldn't work? And your family is forced into poverty and virtually homeless. Would you remove those wings then? To provide a better future for your children?

Also, because of my husbands surgeries he lost most of his childhood to hospital stays and life threatening infections and time laid up at home. I would love the oppurtunity to give him a million dollars and some the ability to live freely as he missed out on as a child.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 2:23PM
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I forgot to mention that all of this is written with the knowledge that insects do not have a Central Nervous System like ours. In humans, our Central Nervous System consists of cells called "nociceptors." The sole purpose of these cells is to create the sensation of pain.

Entomology has taught us that insects DO NOT have these cells. While they can feel sensations such as touch they can not feel the difference between an ice cube or a hot peice of metal. Both feel the same and neither cause them pain.

So my action would not cause this creature pain.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 2:36PM
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However anyone answered this question, I truly believe no one would turn down the money unless they already had millions or expecting to make much more from the publicity they would receive if they refused. I'd do it, and I consider myself a moral and all around good person. A million dollars could do a lot to help those in need, including animals and butterflies. To refuse to kill one butterfly when so much good could be done is just beyond my imagination. I can walk out the door tomorrow and accidently kill one. I have probably killed many just by driving my car. Would I turn down a million dollars to pull the wings off one? Not while I still have one working brain cell. My question is, Who is going to pay me this million dollars to do it?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 1:20AM
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Beanne - So true, so true. It is easy to say you would not based on a hypothetical question. Yet, if a suitcase of cash was placed infront of you with the request to dewing said butterfly I am sure opinions would change!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 1:31AM
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I got to thinking about this more. Would you be willing to kill a cow for a million?


If you eat regular store bought red meat, you are supporting the abuse and killing of animals for dinner . I promise you that slaughter houses do not use "all" of the animal that could be used, much is wasted. This sacrifice is ok for dinner? Even though the cow does have nociceptors and does feel pain? Again, I promise you, not only can they feel pain - they are severly subjected to it.

Something to think about!

Also, roaches do not carry "life threatening" diseases. Infact, roaches cannot transfer disease directly to humans as, for example, mosquitos can. Roaches transfer disease to humans in the form of food poisoning by walking across your food and leaving bacteria. The bacteria causes the food poisoning. Generally a mild form with a-typical sympthoms. Just thought you might like to know. :-)

Personally, I have a paralyzing fear of roaches and palo verde bettles. Don't know why as I have no problem handling a tarantula! So the roaches are stomped. However, for some odd reason, I have more compassion towards the palo verde bettle and I ask my husband to catch and release. I do kill black widow's and brown recluse's, which we see often, because they are lethal to my pets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Warning: Graphic Pics - Article on Slaughter House Horrors

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 9:21PM
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.....ummmmmm....I do eat beef.....have for most of my life..excpt for the years I went veggie. I think I could kill a cow for a million dollars. After all, just because someone else is killing it for my plate, doesn't mean I am not responsible for the death. So yes, I could kill a cow and proabaly with less guilt than killing a butterfly. Just like when I eat veggies, I know many animals died for me to eat them. It's just the way life is.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 1:19AM
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well, my, my. The_adams, Did you really not know that humans can't tell the difference between hot and cold if they did'nt already know
A case of diarrhea could kill me. As i am a diabetic,have congestive heart failure,anemia(chronic), hypothyroid,had a stroke,and a lot of othe things that are minor except major depression.
I googled roaches and disease and came up with no research on the subject except those that had everything under the sun, but those all advertized bug spray so they did'nt count.but since roaches carry germs on their legs, it stands to reason they could carry any bacterium no matter how deadly. They will carry anything they walk over. Mosquitoes carry germs in an intirely different way. They have to bite you, roaches don't. Bacteria did'nt evolve to spread themselves in only one way.

I did come on an interesting site that tells of research showing that roach droppings were as bad as dust mites in causing asthma. Try googling (roach asthma).
anyone who wants roaches in their house, have at it but it really is not a social norm. whereas
butterflies in your garden is a social norm.I prefer butterflys.
This was supposed to be my opinion. I gave it and i stand by it no matter how much anyone rants about it or insinuates i'm a lier or ignorant. I think i have just as much a right to my opinion as anyone else.

As far as killing cows. No i would not kill a cow but i eat beef. I get my beef from a family member where it is raised in a big field no artifical feed. It is killed humanely. I have been to the place that slaughters it. A very clean place i might add. The only bloody carcases i've seen are those of humans who killed someone else or themselves in auto wrecks,usually one of the drivers was drunk.
Oh and i eat a lot of deer meat too, humanly killed by a crack shot. I also eat chicken and that is not humanely done or cleanly either. Yes,
i've been in a chicken processing plant too.
I also eat fish which is caught and cleaned by family in clean mountain lakes and streams.
I am in no way rich, in fact i have a very hard time making ends meet. I'm on social security, My DH and i worked very hard and put our fair share of money into SSI. So it is not given to me. I am 67 yrs. old and a widow. I was married 48 yrs. I've never comitted a crime or been in jail, never had a traffic ticket. almost did once years ago right after the seatbelt thing came in. But the judge was as mad about it as me and told me i could legally take this class that would also bring my insurance down and he'd tear up the ticket. I did and he did and they did.
I know my own mind. I would not pull the wings off a buttefly for any amount of money and i don't care if anyone beleives me or not. My family knows me and knows i would'nt.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 7:04AM
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It depends upon the butterfly. A rare or endangered species, probably not?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 11:10AM
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Yikes! Oaklief, I meant in no way to offend you. I was just voicing my opnion. Really sorry.

As for the roaches, from my understanding their are no documented cases of the diseases they are carrying causing death. Roaches carry unique strains of bacteria, so illnesses caused by them are slightly easier to trace. That's all I was trying to say. As I said, they don't live with me - they really freak me out! I didn't use google for my research. My source is a very interesting book: Sanitary Entomology: The Entomology of Disease, Hygiene and Sanitation by William Dwight Pierce. Also, The Compleat Cockroach: A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Despised by David George Gordon. (At one point I thought if I read up on roaches I would have less fear, apparently my fear goes much deeper! :-)

Also, most bug droppings can cause asthmatic problems and allergies. This includes the skin they shed.

As far as the cow issue, I was sure to to clearly say "regular store bought meat." Obviously you do not fall within this catagorey, I was just bringing a different view to the table.

It is interesting you mentioned your age, which would be a good variable. Those who are younger, have children in their future, elderly parents to take care of, etc. may look at this entirely differently.

Like, I said, you never know if you will have a child who will need that money to save their lives. I would certainly want it as a safety net. But then again, I'm pretty young.

Also, I'm not really sure what you meant by your first sentence:

"Did you really not know that humans can't tell the difference between hot and cold if they did'nt already know it?"

It's our sensory nerves that tell us the difference between hot/cold, rough/soft, pain, etc. Take heat for example, your tempature sensitive sensory nerves will detect heat when something is placed against the skin that is warmer by detecting the difference in the temp of your skin and the temp of the item. Same goes for cold. These nerve ending also adapt, like when you get into a cold pool and then "adjust."

However, my point was that insects do not have nociceptors and therefore do not experience pain.

Also, I wasn't trying to rant. Just bring a different perspective! I still stand by my opnion that know one knows what they would do until put in the situation and that it would also depend upon your life variables.

Out of curiosity, Oaklief, (and please know I mean no disrespect, just an honest question): If you have children and one of them needed a transplant to survive or some other life saving surgery, yet her/his insurance wouldn't cover it, would you do it then?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 1:52PM
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Yikes! posters getting all jacked out of shape over a simple question. I STILL would pull the wings from a butterfly for a million dollars. I am dirt poor right now and couldn't help a cockroach if he was looking for a handout.
A million dollars would help a lot of people,animals and yes butterflies.
I mowed around a huge caterpillar yesterday, so I actually saved a butterfly. Who would kill an ugly caterpiller for a million dollars?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 9:36PM
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Beeanne - who are you refferring to getting bent out of shape?

Just not sure which one of us :-)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 2:41AM
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Humans DO NOT have nerve receptors that can differentiate between hot and cold . I took anatomy and physiology in college and we did a test in lab using a hot (but not extremely hot to burn)peice of plastic and an icecube with several people that were blindfolded and no one could tell which was the ice cube and which was the plastic. This test was to show that humans do not have nerve cells that can tell if something is hot or cold if they don't know even though a burn is different in nature once a wound is made. But it is the wound not the nerves that determines the extent of the damage.

May i suggest anyone to try doing research on google.They might be surprised at what they can learn. There is very good university research and information on the internet as well as goverment agencies such as the CDC. Yes i admit to getting bent out of shape. when the false information was put forward that humans could tell the difference between hot and cold and i knew it was'nt. You're right this was a simple ethics question. and it was kept simple till someone decided to make it complicated.
There are people in this world who could figure a way around pulling the wings off a butterfly for money. And i feel like i have that right to my opinion. It is after only an opinion. It is not an opinion that humans do not have nerve sensory receptors that can tell between hot and cold.
The roach droppings are as bad as dust mites in causing asthma both being the worst causing agents unlike others which are not near as bad.
Allergic agents do not all have the same rateing as all other allergic agents. I do not mean to offend anyone just trying to teach something.
I apoligise for not making myself clearer before

Should my children have had a drastic ailment when they were young. We were in the army or we had excellent insurance that would have payed for almost anything. The younger generation were not willing to work to hold on to it. Should something come up today i would suggest one go to Germany where the health care is the best and the cheapest in the world. The US comes in last and most expensive in the industrialized nations. That was in Reuters and MSNBC two days ago. No i would not pull off the wings of a butterfly. I would have already imagrated to Germany or Australia which like all the other better healthcare countrys have national healthcare. Canada is only one step ahead of the US by the way. And no the better countrys do not pay more than we do, they pay less in taxes. They have better working conditions,more days off. I can hear someone say. If they were so much better. Why don't you move there. A lot of americans already have and if i were young so would i. This is not the same country i grew up in.

Now i have intruded long enough. I hate to have intruded like this. I just can't leave misinformation go by.
Have a nice day

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 3:54PM
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Germany ranks 25th.so it's not the best, and I wouldn't consider it the cheapest. The US 37th.
In Germany, by law you must pay into a health insurance plan until age 65. 14% of your wages and your employer pays 14%.
Only certain groups are allowed to carry private health insurance. Most have to have state regulated insurance.
Oh yea, and the self employed are excluded from the state funded and must carry private insurance. Doesn't seem all that great to me.
But then, I have NO insurance. Still love this great country though. :-)
The Adams, I don't think I was meaning anyone in particular. It's just that such a simple morals question turned so serious, I felt like saying something. :-)
To anyone with loved ones or yourself with serious health problems, you're in my prayers.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 5:28PM
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OK, OK. I really hate to do this to all of you, but I just cant let this one go. I apologize in advance.

Vicki - I do not need to do research on Google regarding the nervous system because I attend the University of Arizona. My major requires me to take certain classes, one of which taught me in depth about the make up of the human body including our nervous system. The information I provided regarding the hot and cold sensation came straight out of a text book. I'm not sure where you would prefer me to look...

Not only have I taken Anatomy & Physiology, I have also taken Pathology. What you are saying makes absolutely no scientific reasoning. My Pathology Professor is happy to back me up on this! The human nervous system is VERY complicated and I guarantee that you are the one who has received false information or misinterpreted said information. I'm sorry, not trying to be rude, but that is really just the fact.

Let me get technical (so you will believe me) and try to explain this:

There are two parts to our nervous system: The "central" and the "peripheral." Within the peripheral there is the "somatosensory system" which is controlled by a large group of nerve endings and touch receptors. It is this system that controls the difference between touch, hot/cold, pain/pleasure, smooth/rough, pressure, etc that controls the difference between touch, hot/cold, pain/pleasure, smooth/rough, pressure, etc.

Now, within the somatosensory system there are 4 categories of receptors: Mechanoreceptors, Thermoreceptors, Pain Receptors, and Proprioceptors.

As you probably guessed, we are dealing with the "thermoreceptors" for our hot and cold discussion. These receptors are found within the dermis layer of the skin. Thermoceptors have 2 categories: Hot and cold.

They work like this:

First off, I will be referring to the temperature of your skin in my explanation. This is not to be confused with your internal body temperature, they are two different things.

When the surface of the skin drops below 95 degrees the cold receptors perceive a cold sensation. They are most stimulated when the temperature of your skin reaches 77 degrees and are no longer stimulated below 41 degrees. ThatÂs why you go numb.

When the surface of the skin rises above 86 degrees hot receptors perceive hot sensations. Above 113 degrees pain receptors take over to avoid injury.

However, cold receptors are found in greater density then hot receptors. The highest concentration of thermoceptors is in your face and ears.

So, when your nervous system is stimulated by hot or cold a "synapse" takes place. That is, neurons make a connection. Then, the synapse sends cold or hot sensory info from the peripheral neuron to the central nervous system.

My guess is you actually misinterpreted the Lab experiment you participated in. This type of experiment is common and is to teach the lesson of how receptors can be confused when either given too much info or how receptors react differently depending on the part of your body.

A common experiment is to have to separate pieces of pipe braided together. One pipe is filled with hot water and the other with cold. A hand takes hold of the braid is presented with both hot and cold at the same time. The receptors are then confused and you will only feel hot.

As I mentioned before, these receptors also adapt quickly. They are among the quickest! Therefore, if you have 3 glasses of water: hot, cold, room temperature and your hold the hot and cold simultaneously for 60 seconds in each hand. Then grab the room temperature glass with both hands, the cold water hand will tell you this glass is hot and the hot water hand will tell you the glass is cold. Your skin temp in each hand has adapted and therefore each hand perceives the new glass differently. Just like you adjust to a cold pool or hot shower.

OK - so, in laymanÂs terms, my stepfather is blind and he can most certainly tell the difference between hot and cold.

Sorry for turning the topic too serious. Now lets just forget about hot and cold and understand that my point was insects do not feel pain. That was it, that was my point.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 9:48PM
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My answer would be that I would find a butterfly that is already dead---look on car bummers in a parking lot should find me a few---and pull the wings off one of those. The Scruples questions did not stipulate that the butterfly had to be alive at the time of the act. But my question would be, "Who would be foolish enough to pay someone a million dollars to do something like that?"

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Of course. And, as many do, I spray sevin and kill many bees and butterflies.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:04PM
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I Googled and found this.
"The "expected life span" of butterflies(which is usually much shorter than the "maximum life span" because of predators, weather, etc.) ranges from about 2 to 14 days after they emerge from the chrysalis. Maximum life span ranges from about 4 days (spring azure) to 10 to 11 months (mourning cloak). Females generally live longer than males."
Would I pull the wings off a butterfly for a million dollars? Yes,I would not hesitate to pull the wings off of one little butterfly for that much money,only because it would allow me to help a lot of people in my family.I guess that makes me "barbaric"!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 5:09PM
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I don't slap mosquitoes in my room. I catch them by using plastic glass then take outside. But, in the situation you offer this post, I think I cannot give you the answer unless in the real situation.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 5:08PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Would anyone bet against me if I offered even odds that the number of people who answered 'no' to the hypothetical postulation would be reduced by a factor greater than 95% if faced with the question in reality? Of course, that's another hypothetical, but I suggest there are very few who wouldn't pull wings, legs, antennae, and head off a butterfly if a cool mil were REALLY in the balance.


1 Like    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 5:47PM
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I love butterflies and I'm not particularly materialistic but for a million dollars- yes I would.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 7:03PM
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I love butterflies and I'm not particularly materialistic but for a million dollars- yes I would.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 7:05PM
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Nope I would never do it . Even the middle class life with beautiful things in your life is awesome!

    Bookmark   Yesterday at 9:10AM
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