The mysterious Miss Gillett

Kondla, Norbert FOR:EX Norbert.Kondla at
Mon Nov 6 11:29:09 EST 2000

This discussion on the english name for Euphydryas gillettii shows the
advantages of getting multiple people digging for "the facts".  Ken Philip
points out that Miss Jessie D. Gillett of Elkhart, Illinois was a patron of
Barnes.  It would make far more sense to think that the butterfly was named
after a patron rather than someone else.  Cliff Ferris provided the
following commentary:
"Gillette's . . ." was used in the Rocky Mtn. book.  The U. of Okla. Press
editor insisted that common names be included, and I don't recall who came
up with the name (F. M. Brown or me).  It is also possible that the copy
editor "corrected" the spelling "Gillett" to "Gillette."

In any case, there seems to be a misconception about for whom the latinized
name is a patronym (based on the comments that I received from Ken).
Clarence P. Gillette [the correct spelling] was an entomologist at what is
now Colorado State University.  He was an aphid taxonomist, and he
established what is now the "C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity."
I am quite familiar with the Museum and visited it yesterday.

I am sure that the b'fly's name is a patronym for Miss Jessie D. Gillett of
Elkhart, Illinois.  She was the publication patroness of many of the issues
of the Barnes et al. series:  "Contributions to the Natural History of the
Lepidoptera of North America."  She is acknowledged at the front of many of
the issues.
Since the TL for the b'fly is Yellowstone N.P. in Wyoming, it's rather
doubtful that C. P. Gillette, a Colorado aphid specialist, had any
connection with Barnes or the b'fly."
So all this leaves me thinking that Gillett's Checkerspot is the correct
spelling and that the butterfly was named after Miss Gillett of Illinois.
Tune in next week, who knows what other interesting biohistory may yet turn
up :-) -- anyone have any further biographical info on Jessie Gillett and
what interest she may have had in butterflies ??

Norbert Kondla  P.Biol., RPBio.
Forest Ecosystem Specialist, Ministry of Environment
845 Columbia Avenue, Castlegar, British Columbia V1N 1H3
Phone 250-365-8610
Mailto:Norbert.Kondla at


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