What is a lepidopterist?

Anne Kilmer viceroy at gate.net
Tue Jan 29 15:13:22 EST 2002

Ron Gatrelle wrote:

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mark Walker" <MWalker at gensym.com>
> Subject: RE: What is a lepidopterist?
>>Not to be controversial, but I don't entirely agree with Ron.  I wouldn't
>>call everyone who has an interest in animals a "zoologist".  Likewise,
> the
>>term "lepidopterist" is better reserved for those with a strong link to
>>scientific activities - regardless of any professional affiliation.
>>Similarly, I do agree that formal education is NOT a requirement - nor,
> as
>>I've mentioned, is net swinging.  The bottom line: if you think you're a
>>lepidopterist, then you are.
>>Mark Walker.

Ron said:

> Sorry, but I don't see this as just a simple matter of which terminology
> one wants to use in defining themselves.  As I said in my initial post,
> there is an underlying problem here -- and it did not exist at all 15-20
> years ago.   Bigotry _has_ moved into lepidoptery and it needs to go.
> Ron Gatrelle

I'm bewildered ... I don't see any of this among the people I know.
Why here we are, all working together to save the Miami Blue, working 
just as hard and carefully as we can, all under Bob Parcelle's gentle 
guidance, needing the net-swingers and the people that rear butterflies, 
and taking our direction from the scientists, gathering data, 
disseminating it where it is useful ... watchers, collectors, whatever 
you want to call us, about to post to Neil Jones' list as soon as it's 
up, gathering data as John Calhoun and Marc Minno bring more experts 
into the mix, looking for ant people and people who work with the other 
blue butterflies and legumes ...
Without the people who have butterfly houses, and the people who rear 
butterflies, how could we keep little colonies of our butterfly safe, 
experiment with back-crosses to the Cyclargus on the islands, see 
whether gene drift is a factor in their decline ... without polluting 
the main colony in the Keys?

Without the collectors, and their well-curated collections, how would we 
know precisely which butterfly had been seen in each alleged 
bethunebakeri sighting? C. ammon does a fine job of imitating C. 
thomasi, if you don't know what you're doing?

Come to that, without the collectors, as well as the butterfly 
gardeners, how would we teach those thousands of children ... school 
groups, scouts, service organizations ... what they're looking for, when 
the arborists doing "spring cleaning" have saved us all the Balloon Vine 
seedpods? We're looking at truckloads of vines, currently going to be 
composted, complete with their carpenter ants and their butterfly larvae.
This is going to be a huge job, and it needs to be done (or at least 
begun) while the Keys is a nicer place to be than practically anyplace 
else. That's February, March, April ... and those that love heat will 
continue to volunteer, but the kids may well wimp out. If we find no 
Miami Blues they will pretty certainly wimp out when they notice that 
they are wrestling with nickerbeans among mosquitoes and biting ants in 
the hot sun.

So ... our scientists are figuring out what we're looking for, what data 
we're gathering, what host plants we need and so forth.
Meanwhile, the enthusiastic volunteers may amuse themselves by sorting 
through millions of Balloon Vines and hunting for larvae; rearing native 
vines, and  awaiting the official word on which Cardiospermum might be 
the native, and whether in fact C. corindum is the vine that the Miami 
Blue uses, or not.

Bob Parcelles will tell us when we may start in. Meanwhile, by all means 
give him your name and what you want to do, and he'll put to work.
You've seen that comercial, "I am an American"? Well, seems to me, we're 
all lepidopterists.

I admit I deplore his eagerness to abandon a word because the wrong 
folks are using it and it starts to smell bad ... I say clean it up and 
take it back. But my first collection was words. I'm a bug collector, as 
well, even if most of my bugs happen to be alive and free. That's the 
deal I have with the universe.

Different people have different deals.

Besides, it's such pretty weather now ... shouldn't we all be planning 
our trip to the Keys? All the mosquitoes you can eat ... but so much 
fun, it won't matter.
Anne Kilmer
Task Force Director
Miami Blue Butterfly Recovery Team
South Florida


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