What is a lepidopterist?

Rudy Benavides rbenavid at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 29 16:25:17 EST 2002

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

Many people nowadays become interested in butterflies through programs that 
they attend that are sponsored by nature centers, or similar organizations.  
These are typically in the form of walks where a group leader leads the 
group and helps to locate and identify butterflies.  There is also much 
literature available now emphasizing butterfly gardening, and that is 
something that has come about in the past several years.  These 
organizations are very effective in conducting basic classes and in giving 
many people their first introduction into the world of butterflies and other 
things in nature.

It is from these ranks that thousands of people today are becoming the new 
breed of butterfliers that are out there today.  I've been to sessions were 
nets are used, and I've been to ones where the leader explains that in 
his/her outing, nets will not be used.  From these groups, many folks will 
go on to join local Butterfly Clubs as well as other national organizations 
such as NABA.  And it's my opinion that relatively few join Lepidopterists 
Societies, simply because, if they are aware of them at all, they are 
perceived as societies for professionals...noticed I said perceived.

Now I find the whole thing most interesting, because it is the same process 
that the 'birding' movement went through years ago until it became the 
popular avocation that it is today and includes such competitive things as a 
World Series of Birding, etc.  One difference that stands out now in the 
butterfly world is with collectors.  In the birding world that never became 
an issue primarily because collecting birds is not allowed due to protective 
migratory federal laws. One can only imagine had that not been the case.  
But the attitude (which Alex referred to as a movement) is coming.. (heck, 
it's here already), and I expect to see a proliferation of more magazines, 
books, videos, seminars, etc., etc, geared to butterfliers and butterfly 
watchers.  I think Ron made a statement (it caught my eye) a few days ago 
when he mentioned that the Lep Society had had its chance awhile back but 
'missed it'....well, we all know that someone else did not.  But anyway, 
that's the change that is coming and that's IMO the reason why these 
distinctions about lepidopterist vs watchers are going to be made,,,,,with 
all the positives and negatives that they bring.

I'm sure others see this differently, and that's why i asked the question 


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