Strays vs stays

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Sun Nov 5 17:00:54 EST 2000

Allan Wormington wrote:

Great information, but please explain the records of the following
species at Point Pelee during recent years:
Long-tailed Skipper, Funereal Dusky-Wing (2 records / 2 different years),
Brazilian Skipper, Ocola Skipper (now recorded 5 different years, only one
record elsewhere in Canada), Great Southern White, Sleepy Orange (2 records
/ 2 different years), Marine Blue.
If [a] Marine Blue can make it here from the U.S. southwest, I'm sure a
couple of *Fixsenia favonius ontario* can stray to southern Ontario from
somewhere in the northern United States.

Alan Wormington
Leamington, Ontario
[currently 35 miles E of North Padre Island, Texas]

Ron Gatrelle's response.
    Since this question was asked of me, I will address it from my
perspective. The first thing I would want to know is if these are based on
sightings or actual collected specimens. If based on sightings then these
records are nonexistent. (At this discussion group we recently examined the
100% positive sight record for S. idalia in Ontario. A record which John
Shuey (and I) said was virtually impossible.) Sight records (confirmed by a
buddy) have long been accepted as standard procedure among Birders.
Lepidopterists have almost always based official records only on collected
    It is scientifically alarming that sight records are actually preferred
to capture records by the new groups. I will assume here that these are
based on actual voucher specimens and are valid. I am glad to see that Allan
collects specimens as evidenced by his Point Pelee specimens figured in
B-flies of Canada.
    Secondly, I'm not completely sure what some of the above species are.
Why? Because for over 40 years I have used, and continue to use, scientific
names -- which are the only names that count. Any current instability in
lepidopteran names has not come from traditional lepidopterists -- butterfly
collectors. It has come from those who have wrought havoc by not only
throwing out science (taxonomic names) but by also reinventing all the
common (USA) names. I see this as one of many deliberate moves over the last
15 years to widen the gap between historical butterfly collectors and the
new butterfly watchers.
    So let me translate this list. Urbanus proteus, Erynnis funeralis,
Calpodes ethlius, Panoquina ocala, Ascia monuste, Eurema nicippe, Leptotes
    Next. When Allan asked me to "...please explain the records of the
following." I don't think he did so as a sincere question birthed out of
some honest perplexity. Rather, I think he was being somewhat sarcastic.
Kind of like saying, "OK, Mr. know-it-all so how did these all get here. Did
they just come from a couple miles away too _Not_! " (My apologies to Allan
in advance as he may not have had this kind of attitude at all.)
    The answer (not my answer) is this. All of these species are multiple
brooded wanderers. No Leptotes marina has ever made "it here (Canada) from
the U.S. southwest." This is an absurd statement. It is birder speak.
Remember, that I grew up in Iowa. I experienced this every year. As the
season progressed more and more "southern" species would be found in _fresh_
condition as these species extended their breeding range.
    Thus, the vast majority of specimens on Allan's list did come from a
breeding colony relatively *few* miles away. The ocala did not come from
Ocala, Fla, nor did the ethilus come from Brazil. Are they non resident
Canadian strays? Absolutely. But they were bred just across the border or in
Canada. Have the decorative Canna plants in urban Ontraio been searched for
ethilus larvae? I seldom see ethilus adults even here, but I find their
larvae by the dozens in stands of Canna all over town every year.
    Allan is comparing apples and acorns. All the species he mentioned are
multiple brooded wanders. F. favonius ontario is a single brooded stay at
home species. Next spring find the proper ontario habitat within 10 miles of
Pointe Pelee. When the larvae would be in late instars, place white sheets
on the ground beneath young (less than 20 feet talk) oaks, smack or shake
the trees and don't be surprised if you find ontario larvae.


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list