Lep Soc Meeting in Sierra Vista

Hugh McGuinness hmcguinness at ross.org
Tue Aug 9 14:49:06 EDT 2005

Dear Leppers Near & Far
I have just returned from the Lepidopterist Society Meetings in Sierra
Vista, Arizona, and I want to say they were fantastic. If you have never
been to a Lep Soc meeting, don't miss next year's, which is planned for
Jun 14-18 at the McGuire Center at the University of Florida in
Gainesville. (And by the way, if you are not a member, you should join,
this is a great organization.) 
What I most loved about this meeting was hanging out with 270 people who
are as enthusaiastic about Leps as I am. And even though there is still
an over-emphasis on butterflies (I mean c'mon, they comprise 5% of the
order at most!), there were plenty of people for a moth-guy like me to
meet and talk with. The talks were wonderful and highly varied. Many
groups with different ways of understanding Leps were represented at the
conference. I loved the fact that a paper containing heavy-duty
cladistic analysis replete with esoteric jargon was followed by an
excellent slide show on the butterflies of Manu during which all the
participants oohed and aahed. These kinds of contrasts at the meeting
were common and wonderful. In addition, the graduate student papers,
mainly on dissertation topics, were fascinating. Consider Todd
Gilligan's paper in which he demonstrated that 4 different Tortricid
taxa, which had been described based on differing wing pattern and
different genitalia, actually form a continuous series in both pattern
and genitalia. Goodbye 4 taxa; hello new highly variable species. That
was mind blowing to me. I also learned that the Viceroy is not a
Batesian mimic, which I had been taught every year since high school. It
turns out that at least in some parts of its range, it's toxic too. But
another talk made the argument that the Viceroy has only recently made
the switch from non-toxic mimic to toxic co-conspirator! So many good
talks, so much to stimulate the mind.
The comraderie and approachability among all the participants was also
amazing. I finally got to meet so many people with whom I have been
carrying out e-mail correspondence for 2-3 years. My talks with all of
these people were invaluable and I have come home with a renewed
commitment to reach a deeper understanding of Long Island's moth fauna.
My other favorite memory from this trip was that one night after the
final festivities when I drove up one of the nearby canyons well after
dark. Littered along the roadside were black lights, and MV lights,
often being powered by the car engine, cars covered with sheets and
camouflage, people everywhere collecting, observing, and photographing
moths. That night I bounced from group to group like a Sphingid
uncontrollably drawn to the light photographing Arizona's amazing moths,
and met many wonderful people, including a beetle collector from
California who had nothing to do with the Lep Soc but was just doing his
thing in the canyon.
The meeting ran smoothly, without a major hitch, all to the thanks of
Evi & Paul Opler and Priscilla & Hank Brodkin. What a well-done job, and
they maintained their sense of humor throughout. Thanks you all for your
considerable effort.
On the moth-rah listserve, Ron Gatrelle asked for a list of moths at
Sierra Vista. As soon as I figure out what the heck I photographed, I'll
post a list, but that may take 6 months to sort out.:)
See y'all in Gainesville.

Hugh McGuinness
The Ross School
18 Goodfriend Drive
East Hampton, NY 11963
hmcguinness at ross.org
631-907-4229 (no messages please)
631-697-2099 (cell) 



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