Plate from V1 of Jones Icones

Plate from V1 of Jones Icones

William Jones (1745-1818) was a premier English naturalist and entomologist known today mostly for his collection of some 1,500 watercolors of butterflies and moths. The 6-volume collection, Jones Icones, in the hands of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, illustrates specimens from around the world, including specimens from the collections of Dru Drury, Joseph Banks and John Francillon as well as a few from the British Museum and Linnean Society collections.  Sadly, this stunning collection of illustrations has never been published.

On his death, the watercolors, Jones’ notepads, and a modest but historically important butterfly collection (including specimens of the now-extinct Large Copper Butterfly, Lycaena dispar), went to his cousin John Drewitt and remained in the Drewitt family until the 1920s, at which time they were transferred to Oxford.

Now the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported digitizing the watercolors and many of the other items in the collection, which was just loaded online as Flying Icons: The Collection of William Jones of Chelsea (1745-1818).  They’re amazing plates.

But for the keen lepidopterist, the Museum has a challenge:

>>Many of the butterflies and moths represented in Jones’ ‘Icones’ have never been identified, and no extensive attempt has been made to attribute all the Lepidoptera in the Icones with their modern species names. This would provide an invaluable resource to anyone studying Lepidoptera and could change our understanding of the history of the discipline and the naming of these species.

We need your help to accomplish this enormous task. If you are a Lepidoptera systematist, a keen and knowledgeable collector of butterflies or moths … or simply want to have a go at identifying butterflies and moths, then please request an account. If you already have an account, then please sign in and contribute!<<

You don’t need an account just to browse, though.

Samuel Hubbard Scudder

Samuel Hubbard Scudder

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is dedicated to scanning old natural history volumes and making them available to contemporary readers as PDFs or OCR files. One of the recent additions is Volume 1 (covering Nymphalidae) of The butterflies of the eastern United States and Canada : with special reference to New England by Samuel Hubbard Scudder. The edition is 1889 and comes from the MBL/WHOI library on Cape Cod.

I’ve added it to the LepLog library.  It’s a rather large file (766 pages) and will take a few minutes to download but is replete with ecology, biology, and identification notes on some of the most iconic Eastern US butterflies.

Read or download Scudder 1889 Vol 1 Nymphalidae here.

It’s a sign of spring at least as reliable as the first Mourning Cloak — a new “Approximation” from Harry LeGrand (with illustrations by Tom Howard)  for NC butterflies.  It’s hard to describe exactly what an Approximation is, but it’s part atlas, part field guide, and part armchair handbook for the butterflies of North Carolina.  Some descriptors do come readily to mind:  comprehensive, monumental, easily accessible, eagerly anticipated.

The 22nd Approximation (updated for data from the 2014 field season) has some new features that regular readers and new should appreciate, Harry notes:

1. Once you are on a species account on the website (by clicking the first
letter of the common name or scientific name, and then clicking View next
to the species name) — *you can now click on a colored county, and see all
of the records for the species for that county*. Thus, on the Byssus
Skipper map, if you click on Scotland County, you will see 3 records
listed, for example.

2. On the PDF page for a species (not on the website species account), we
now have *the # of records and # of individuals of that species seen I[n
NC] in 2014*. This is located just to the right of the range map. This will
be of use to many of you, and you might wonder — how many records were
there in 2014 for Zebra Longwing (sadly, none) or Painted Lady (a whopping
85 records).  You can get to the PDF from a species account by clicking on
“View PDF”, located next to the top photo of the species, above the range
map. Thus, if you are in the Byssus Skipper account, when you click on View
PDF, you see that there were 9 records totaling 18 individuals reported in

My favorite version is the PDF, but the website also has searchability functions that come in hand when I carry it in the field on my iPad and can get a cell signal.

View the North Carolina Butterflies 22nd Approximation website.

Butterflies of North Carolina Twenty-second Approximation PDF

Striped Hairstreak 2013 June 6, College Park, PG Co., MD [photo by Tom Stock]

Striped Hairstreak 2013 June 6, College Park, PG Co., MD [photo by Tom Stock]

It began as a crazy idea hatched in the doldrums of the long, nasty winter of 2012-13 – though “long” and “nasty” pretty much describes all winters for any butterfly field enthusiast who lives anywhere north of Florida. A freak sighting on a warm day in January by Rick Borchelt of an American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) was surely a spark. But when March arrived, and both Rick and Tom Stock spotted their first Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae), the idea bit them both – bit them hard. They decided to try to see at least 100 species of butterfly in Maryland and the District of Columbia before the end of the 2013 butterfly season. That’s 100 species in a state where the number of common butterfly species is well under 100, and one might expect to reasonably find no more than 116 species. From the outset, the challenge seemed daunting.

Rick and Tom, often accompanied by their fellow lep enthusiast Beth Johnson, traveled far and wide across the State, both together and solo, and on the way to reaching their goal encountered poisonous snakes, violent storms, debilitating heat and chilly mountain air, lepless days, obstreperous State troopers, swarms of biting flies, fog, drizzle . . . so many obstacles . . . and yet somehow managed to enjoy just about every minute of every day they spent in the field. And they rarely if ever had a bad meal anywhere along the way. Their “Lep Lunches” ranged from barbeque to fish tacos to crab cakes and crab soup to delicious steaks to refreshing sno-cones. Maryland, they discovered, has no shortage of good food!

Lord only knows how many miles they collectively logged – but their travels took them to all but a few of Maryland’s counties, from cranberry bogs in Garrett County to swamp woodlands in Worcester County, from serpentine barrens in Baltimore County to manicured gardens in the District of Columbia, from the tidal creeks of Charles County to the shale scree slopes of Allegany County, from tame suburbia to Maryland’s wildest corners. They covered it all, and of the State’s roughly 116 resident species, Rick found 105 and Tom found 102. And then they finished off their year with a smooth single malt scotch.

It has been about two years since this mad MD100 quest began. Looking back at the records on this blog, readers can track Rick and Tom’s progress. Tom has taken these tallies one step further and put together a narrative of the year, illustrated with lists of butterflies from every field excursion he made. That narrative is now available here on Lep Log. Read and enjoy, but be forewarned that you may be bit just as hard as he was and end up knee deep in a bog looking for some rare marsh skipper with a thick cloud of gnats around your head, wondering how you could be any happier.

Read Tom’s account of our 2013 MD100 Big Year, and make your own plans for 2015!


A Call for Proposals

Due: Friday, 6 March 2015

The Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity (SysEB) section leadership invites SysEB undergraduate and graduate students to submit applications for the SysEB Student Research Travel Award Program (SRTA). Travel Awards provide funding for student fieldwork and/or research travel to other institutions to enhance research projects. Beginning this year, the top ranked proposals from graduate students will be recognized and funded separately by the SysEB Graduate Student Research Endowment (GSRE).

Funding for awards is generally limited and typically 3-4 proposals are funded. Thus, proposals are competitively judged based on the following factors: a) benefit of the proposed travel to the student’s research; b) scientific justification; and c) demonstration of funding need.

SysEB Student Research Travel Award Program Details

Eligibility: Current undergraduate or graduate students only; must be members in good standing of the SysEB section of the Entomological Society of America (ESA); eligible applicants

may receive one Student Research Travel Award (SRTA) only (i.e., previous Award recipients are not eligible to apply for additional Awards).
Allowed Travel Requests: Proposals will be considered for costs associated with domestic and/or international travel to conduct research (including fieldwork, offsite lab work, and research visits to museum collections); the SRTA Program will provide award recipients with travel funding only (all official/legal permissions and/or permits for the travel are the responsibility of the student).

Awards: Typical award amounts are approximately $1,000- $1,500. Payment of the award will occur upon completion of travel as reimbursement. Students must provide evidence of travel (copy of boarding pass, hotel receipts, etc.) and copies of collecting and export permits (if applicable). Travel must be completed within a year of the award date.

Application package: Should include (in single spaced 12-point Arial, 1-inch margins):

  • 1-page description of the proposed research project (title, brief background, specific hypotheses, scientific importance) and the purpose of the proposed travel, including explanation of how the proposed travel will enhance your research.
  • 1-page detailed budget with specific travel plans and budget justification including a statement of confirmation that all relevant collecting, research, and/or export permits are current or obtainable for the proposed travel.
  • Literature references, if applicable (1 page maximum).
  • A short statement (a paragraph) from your major professor (or advisor) that indicates your student status and how well the proposed travel is integrated with your research (can be a separate letter, but should be included in the application).

Please prepare a single PDF file consisting of all four sections described above and name the file with your full name in the format “last_name, first_name”. Please email applications to Dr. Hojun Song, 2015 SysEB President ( on or before 06 March 2015. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of March.

Travel receipts (= evidence of travel) should be emailed to

SysEB Treasurer, Dr. Jennifer Zaspel ( and

copies of collecting and export permits (if applicable) to Dr.

Hojun Song (

Ottoe Skipper [photo courtesy Government of Canada]

Ottoe Skipper [photo courtesy Government of Canada]

See note below from Stephanie of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  Respond directly to her if you have an interest:

>>The Iowa DNR is looking to hire three field technicians to do butterfly and vegetation surveys on some of the best Loess Hills remnant prairies.  We are specifically targeting two rare Hesperidae – Ottoe and Leonard’s Skippers.  The positions would run from June 8th through October 1 and would be perfect for a new or recent graduate especially if they have experience with identifying prairie butterflies and/or plants.  The job announcement is attached if you or anyone you know is interested.   Thanks and folks can get in touch with me directly with any questions.



Wildlife Diversity Biologist

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

P 515.432.2823

Boone Wildlife Research Station

1436 255th St

Boone, IA 50036

Dick Smith has been busy updating new records for Maryland and Delaware from observations made in the 2014 flight season.  These and a revision for 2015 of his “Butterflies of Unknown Status” charts for MD and DE have now been uploaded and can be selected from the navigation at right or from the main page at


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