Before I became a science writer, I was well onto the career path of being an entomologist, and my biggest interest was butterflies.  I’d been a butterfly collector as a kid in southeast Missouri and the Ozarks, and even spent a summer in graduate school as a curatorial assistant at the Smithsonian, relaxing and spreading a unique collection of South African moths and butterflies collected in the early 1960’s.  But it was always living butterflies that interested me most, and the way the exotic-sounding names — Mourning Cloak, Great Spangled Fritillary, Hoary Edge, Falcate Orangetip, Tawny Emperor — tripped off my eight-year-old tongue.  I’ve had a chance the last couple of years to pick up my old avocation again, and look forward to spending more time in the field with the three B’s:  birding, butterflying, and botanizing.  This blog is about those adventures in the field, and the interesting snippets of butterfly and ecological research I come across in my reading.

12 Responses to “About”

  1. Mary Owen Says:

    I am trying to identify a butterfly my friend saw on her land yesterday – large maybe 3inches long – bright blue upper wings long pointed lower wings of a lemon colour – we are in the Alpujarras in Southern Spain – any ideas?

    1. Rick Says:

      Hi, Mary, was hoping one of our members might chime in. But it’s REALLY difficult for us to ID a European species from a narrative description. Might do a little better if you sent us a link to a photo.


  2. I would be grateful for the “easy” route into the Klots Bog, as I would love to take some grand- and great-grandchildren of Professor Klots into it, not immediately but perhaps when school is out. Thank you, Cornelius E. Klots

    1. Rick Says:

      What a wonderful idea; happy to help. Professor Klots’ books and other writing were instrumental in getting me into the field of entomology in the first place.

      Really is pretty easy (now that I know the way!). Park in front of Lakehurst (Manchester CO) High School in the lot along Colonial Drive. Facing the high school, walk left around the building to the back side. If they haven’t cleaned it up, there’s a cluster of trailers, discarded equipment and such in the left corner of the school property. Use the straight line described by the west walls of the school (the left side you walked past) and follow it to the tree line at the back of the property. Presto! There’s a very clear trail there that leads over the RR tracks and straight back into the bog, which is only a few hundred yards in. The bog is to your left walking in. There are two little paths leading off the dike into it.

      It’s really that easy.

  3. Debbie Says:

    Monarch Help Needed! I noticed a fallen Monarch today. His wing was torn and he could not fly. I went online and researched how to repair it. It all
    went well until my “co-surgeon” botched his job and now the upper left wing
    is not working. We are devastated. Is there anyone out there with advice? We have the butterfly inside right now because of the rain and failing wing. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Matthew D. Says:

      Sometimes it’s best to let nature take its course. I believe I may have read the same article as you on repairing a butterfly wing… not an easy task at all. You can keep the butterfly alive a while on Gatorade (I hear they prefer lemon/original). Use something like a milk jug lid and put a sponge in it with the Gatorade. In August, Monarchs that look damaged or faded are likely nearing the end of their life (as they are not the final brood of the year)…It’s their offspring who have a chance of reaching Mexico.

  4. Patrick Minx Says:

    I hiked the Wilderness trail at Meramec S.P. last week w/ my daughter and we saw what I thought were black swallowtails. These were on cone flowers along a creek and they were not seen at the big glade. My daugther took pics but I haven’t seen them yet and if the pics are close enough for ID. Were these likely Black or Ozark?

    1. Rick Says:

      No way of knowing without photos, and close up of the tail spots would be critical. Very great likelihood is Black Swallowtail, however.

  5. Simon Fenner Says:

    Hi, I’m a UK based butterfly enthusiast and I’ve got a work trip to the Gaithersburg area in the third week of August (2014), so I’d welcome any advice on sites within maybe 20 miles as I may have a couple of hours free, and I’d love to check out some US species. It’s quite late in the season here, but I guess that Washington area may benefit from multiple broods – what’s likely to be around in that timeframe ?

    thanks

    Simon

    1. Rick Says:

      Hi, Simon. What brings you to Gaithersburg?

      It’s a high season still for US butterflies, especially skippers, and we are likely to have an influx of southern species by the time you arrive. There are a number of places within 20 miles or so of Gaithersburg; here are a few you might check out.

      US National Arboretum. The NABA count is actually on Aug. 16 if you are around and Tom Stock, the count coordinator, can undoubtedly put you on some great butterflies if you join him for an hour or two if you’re here then. This is in DC proper. Highlights in August have included Fiery Skipper, Sleepy Orange, Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, Cloudless Sulphur and a number of others. Happy to put you in touch.

      Howard County Conservancy. The Conservancy has a small butterfly garden but a large public community garden, and always has something to recommend it. Particularly attractive to grassland species like Common Wood-nymph, etc. All the standard grass skippers and whites/sulphurs.

      C&O Canal. There are many points of access near Gaithersburg to this abandoned canal-turned-national park that runs alongside the Potomac River for more than 100 miles. Some are better than others; Violette’s Lock, Riley’s Lock, and Monocacy are three of the better ones. Here you might hope for Tawny and Hackberry Emperors, Snout, most of the swallowtails including possibly Giant, and more woodland species such as Northern Pearly-eye, Appalachian Brown, and Little Wood-satyr.

      If you have particular species you’re interested in we’d be happy to make recommendations, and if it isn’t the 16th (I’m doing a dragonfly count that day and can’t even make the NABA butterfly count) would be pleased to show you some of these.

  6. Elise Says:

    Hi Rick, I have an Eastern Black Swallowtail crysalis that became a pupa over 20 days ago in my “raising room.” Can you tell me if there is still hope for it eclosing? Thanks, Elise

    1. Rick Says:

      I wouldn’t give up yet, as the average pupation is 18-20 days, but if you’re much beyond that I doubt you’ll get an eclosion. I was seeing fresh Black Swallowtails this weekend, so know it’s the right time.

      You might pulse the folks at washbutterflies, where there are many more butterfly rearers and gardeners.

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