the way it was in suburban habitats

Robert Dana robert.dana at
Wed Jan 23 10:05:41 EST 2002

A term for the general phenomenon that appeals to me is the
"Bambification" of the natural. Seems that for many people, loving
something means converting it into some kind of childlike entity. 

Robert Dana, Ph.D.
Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program
500 Lafayette Rd, Box 25
St. Paul, MN 55155
651 297-2367
Email: robert.dana at

>>> "Grkovich, Alex" <agrkovich at> 1/23/02 7:52:57 AM >>>
Here in Massachusetts, it was recently reported by a "watcher
that (the very rare, at best) Erynnis persius (Persius Duskywing) had
recorded "again" this past spring from the "southeastern portion of
state". This particular watcher organization, by the way, is composed
of a
membership of almost everything but Lepidopterists.

Since reading about this "record" last month, I have continually
how this very difficult observation was made. How was the specimen
determined to have been persius? Was it made by sight? Was the
photographed in the field at rest? Heaven forbid, but was a "voucher"
specimen perhaps taken (and just keep in mind that persons from this
organization had asked me over the course of the past summer, when I
still posting to the group [and I don't waste my time anymore doing
that] to
"please do not mention the word  'voucher' in your postings to us")? 

As we all know very well who have ever attempted to study the group,
Duskywings are very difficult in most cases (except for juvenalis- and
south even that species can be difficult) even with spread voucher

To me, humankind has recently been regressing into the "age of
anti-science". Misidentifications (often made either on purpose or
without concern), man-made "butterfly gardens" where children can be
introduced (while being programmed) to controlled unnatural scenery
than taken to wild habitat to be properly introduced to natural
etc. etc.

This morning there was an article in the Boston Herald (one of our two
Boston newspapers): "conservation groups" are now pressing for laws
would require fishermen to immediately report their "catch" to
via e-mail (or something like that). It's not just us Lepidopterists,
apparently. Anyone who would like to read the article, let me know.
either fax it or mail it. 

"SAVE THE WHALE!" Remember that one?

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Robert Kriegel [SMTP:kriegelr at] 
> Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 5:28 PM
> To:	leps-l at 
> Subject:	Re: the way it was in suburban habitats
> Bob, Paul, Patrick et al.
> >My experience is that Roger is a pretty truthful observer. However,
> >It is still antedotal as opposed to science. we get a lot of that.
> ...
> >> I think it is curious that when lepidopterists are especially
> >> motivated to find butterflies in suburban habitats (such as when
> >> trying to document species occurrence in hopes of blocking land
> >> development plans) they may have remarkably good luck. 
> >> 
> >> For example, I came across the following impressive species
> >> occurrence list for a park threatened by development in Ann Arbor,

> >> Michigan:
> >> Roger Kuhlman
> >> Northeast Area Park,  Ann Arbor, Michigan Butterfly Sightings in
> >> Species                        Scientific             Total  Last
> ...
> >> Wild Indigo Duskywing Erynnis baptisiae    123  10/3
> >> Juvenal's Duskywing   Erynnis juvenalis         3  6/13
> >> Horace Duskywing       Erynnis horatius         1  7/31
> >> Sleepy Duskywing          Erynnis brizo           1  5/17
> ...
> A _lepidopterist_ would have _voucher_ photographs or specimens
> identity was independently verified by an expert.  A butterfly
> makes well intentioned visual observations.  These observations were
> by a knowledgeable group of hard working butterfly watchers.
> Unfortunately, as Bob Parcelles stated earlier, they do not qualify
> science.  They also do not qualify as evidence in a court of law. 
> takes
> evidence to stop bulldozers, anecdotes just get you tears.
> Erynnis baptisiae is a threatened species in Michigan and is seldom
> encountered in the field.  I do find it odd that E. baptisiae is the
> frequently observed duskywing skipper at this location, far
surpassing the
> total for the usually very common E. juvenalis.  In fact, E.
baptisiae was
> the 6th most common of the 46 butterfly species observed.  Duskywing
> skippers are notoriously difficult to tell apart on the wing.
> P.S.  The Michigan Lepidoptera Survey (MLS) database contains the
> comprehensive set of verified records for Michigan's 52 endangered,
> threatened and special concern species of Lepidoptera.  The MLS
> does not contain any vouchers for E. baptisiae from above location.
> Hopefully, we can get Mr. Kuhlman's group to submit some verifiable
> photographs next season.
> Bob Kriegel
> Bath, MI
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