What is a lepidopterist

Anne Kilmer viceroy at gate.net
Tue Jan 29 16:15:59 EST 2002

Rudy Benavides wrote:

> Mark Walker <MWalker at gensym.com> wrote:
>> Likewise, the
>> term "lepidopterist" is better reserved for those with a strong link to
>> scientific activities - regardless of any professional affiliation.
This sounds like the imagined dichotomy between the scientists and the poets, which has always struck me as so silly.

It's almost as silly as the war between the boys and the girls, which 
some of us have grown out of. A lepidopterist may be interested in 
behavior, as well as identification; may approach by way of field work 
or lab work; may have started out by climbing trees until, like the 
orangutan, we got too heavy for that and were, sadly, earthbound.
A lepidopterist may be four years old, or eighty. This may be his 
profession, or avocation, or addiction.
I always liked the pejorative phrase "bug-hunters" as used in Kipling's 
"Stalky and Co." I was one of those, in health. Now I have a little 
trouble even getting under a barbed-wire fence. I'm grateful when folks 
bring back the elusive butterfly, netted, for me to have a good look.

I don't see any need for a division between "watchers" and 
"whateverelse". Heck, some of my best friends are taxonomists, although 
I would just as soon they hadn't just switched to Cyclargus from 
Hemiargus for the Miami Blue. I'm with them all the way and they're 
absolutely right, and I wouldn't dream of taking away Vladimir Nabokov's 
nice butterfly (Nabokov, by the way, was an excellent poet) but "We are 
going to restore this little butterfly, which by the way you are all 
calling the wrong name" seems an ungracious way to start off. ;-)
And, in fact, it's better to be right, now, and avoid the rush.
It is rather hard to do taxonomy really well and have the bug walk away 
afterwards. If you're trying to learn difficult bugs, photos don't help.
I'd love to see the school children handling a study block, lucite, with 
four different blue butterflies in it, actually turning it over and 
examining upper and undersides. (In Florida, Riker mounts are a joke.)
After that, they would have less trouble distinguishing these confusing 
But anyway, none of that can happen without dead bugs, and so it goes.
Bottom line: if you're here, of course you're a lepidopterist. If you're 
a pusher, spreading this addiction among innocent children, more power 
to you.
See you in the Keys.
Anne Kilmer
Steering Committee
Miami Blue Butterfly Restoration Project
Task Force Director
Miami Blue Butterfly Recovery Team
South Florida


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