loretta wrote: I also clicked on the link for Testing, and it suggests to destroy infected butterflies lest one infects the milkweed patch. I understand the need for research however, I would be kind of glum to have swabbed a bunch of butterflies, released them, only to get the results back giving bad news.
Not everyone agrees with the suggestion to destroy infected adult butterflies.
I feel good about releasing infected butterflies because I think it's obvious they help the wild populations grow bigger. How? Well if an infected female lays 400 eggs and 10 of them survive predators, storms, etc, and become adults, some of those 10 adults will not be infected, some will be moderately infected and some heavily infected. The non-infected and moderately infected butterflies will go on to live a normal lifespan, hence enable the overall wild populations continue to grow even larger. And although heavily infected adults don't live as long in a laboratory environment, I have found they still live a very long time (up to 8 months) in the wild. Here are photos of two females born in late summer 2005 that overwintered along the California coast and then between Feb. 2006 and May 2006 I kept them in an outdoor tent to simulate natural conditions:
As you can see, these highly infected females were still capable of strong flight and egg laying when they were 8 months old. So it seems obvious to me that even the heavily infected females help the wild populations to grow since the infection doesn't weaken the females enough to prevent them from migrating and overwintering pretty well or prevent them from laying alot of eggs.