Red Admirals - USGS Map - South Carolina

HpAzures at HpAzures at
Thu Jun 7 18:18:20 EDT 2001


The USGS species maps are based on the original Eastern Butterfly Atlas maps, 
which Paul Opler produced well over a decade ago.  Paul compiled the base 
maps from literature and collections that were readily available to him, and 
he certainly did not have the means to examine every major institutional and 
collection in the country or abroad that very likely contain a wealth of new 
county records.  Nor did he have time of review every paper ever written in 
every journal including those obscure institutional journals we rarely every 
know about.  A large part of the Eastern Butterfly Atlas map data came from 
submissions via distributional spreadsheets for each eastern state. 

Literature records are surprisingly scarce, despite to popular notion that 
"we know everything there is to know about butterflies".  This is why there 
are so many misguided people who insist we don't need to collect anymore.  
All they need to do is look at any of the USGS maps to see for themselves the 
huge gaps in the record due to a LACK of reporting (partly due to a lack of 
collecting or observing) in these areas.  We KNOW the Cabbage White is found 
in every county from coast to coast, yet actual published data on this 
uninteresting butterfly is lacking.  Take a look at the Season Summary of the 
Lepidopterists' Society and you'll be hard-pressed to find mention of the 
Cabbage White, or many other common species.  Either they aren't being 
reported, or the Zone Coordinators ignore the reports (which is precisely why 
I stopped submitting lengthy reports years ago).  This is precisely why there 
are such few (or no) records of certain species in entire states such as 
South Carolina.

Another example is Arthur Shapiro's "Butterflies and Skippers of New York".  
The author omitted maps of the most common species and substituted with a 
blanket statement that the butterflies were found statewide.  Technically, 
such statements cannot be used to fill in every county in a state because 
many counties probably do not have records.  Thus, many New York species maps 
on the USGS website (which relied heavily on the Art Shapiro's maps) show 
thorough distributions of less-common species but the common ones have great 
big gaps.

As for private collections, we will never know how much valuable data there 
is in private collections that is never reported.  This is, in part, very 
understandable due to the great butterfly busts of 10 years ago and the 
growing number of outspoken anti-collectors who simply do not, or will not, 
let themselves understand the nature of scientific method and the need for 

As far as South Carolina goes, Ron Gatrelle may be the only one conducting 
any actual research in that part of the country (and in well over a century) 
- at least research that gets published where people will read it.  Is it any 
wonder why Ron has been describing and revising so many taxa we thought we 
knew so well?  Virtually everyone else in the Carolinas and Georgia who are 
reporting today are watchers and photographers.  I commend the efforts of 
Harry LeGrand, Randy Emmitt, Jim Flynn and others who are taking a very 
active effort at documenting and publishing (over our new electronic media) 
butterfly distributions in the region.  If more people started reporting what 
they find, we may be able to close all these distributional gaps.

However, getting all this information online via the USGS website is not a 
quick and easy process.  Since the South Carolina maps were created many 
years ago, there has not been an update of the state due to a lack of 
published new county records and due to a lack of free time on my part, which 
was spent compiling updates for other states.  At present, I am acting USGS 
state coordinator for South Carolina until a qualified volunteer offers to 
serve in my place.  I have begun to collect data from a variety of sources 
for a major update which should be completed sometime this year.  Harry 
LeGrand has begun documenting South Carolina reports from the Carolinaleps 
discussion group and other sources.  Thus, the South Carolina maps in Notes 
on the Butterflies of North Carolina (8th Approx.) show considerably more 
records than the USGS maps.  These, as the did North Carolina maps from the 
7th Approx., will provide most new distributional data for the USGS maps in 
coming updates (which reminds me, I need to update the N.C. maps from the 8th 

Similarly, an update for the state of Georgia has been in works for about 2 
years now, and a Florida update should be posted any day now.  Check the USGS 
website in a few weeks.

In the meantime, if anyone has distributional data that will help fill some 
of the holes in the South Carolina record, please feel free to contact me at 
this address or via the USGS website.  

Harry Pavulaan
(not in South Carolina) 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Leps-l mailing list