Monday, January 23, 2012

"It was a Black and Yellow butterfly!!!"

Hey ya'll 

Ray said something to me earlier this morning which I thought was extremely strange. I was going through my butterfly collection, adding the newly spread specimens to the display cases when he observed, that since I have introduced him to the world of butterflies, he is slowly beginning to see the differences among them.  Sure, he was able to tell the difference between, say a swallowtail and a nymphalid butterfly but for the longest time many of the individual species within each families seem to elude him.   Well, to be honest I didn't quite know what to make of the statement.  In my opinion, it is the magnificent wings of lepidoptera, with their swirling patterns and vibrant hues that are the most distinct part of their body. Consequently it seemed to escape my comprehension how someone, could look at various species of butterflies and not seem to understand the actual extent of the biodiversity involved!!!

It wasn't until much later that I realized that to the casual observer... this might in fact be true!!! In all my experience as an amateur lepidopterist and a butterfly enthusiast, I have often been approached by people to identify strange and butterflies they have seen on some of their trips. Now, I suppose it would be prudent of me to out and say it right now that many lepidopterists learn to recognize butterflies through a combination of factors. Wing pattern and coloration being one of them, yes, but other things as well such as the shape, flight patterns etc. For the casual observer, however, butterfly recognition is almost always limited to size and color! Needless to say, this is not always a very reliable indication because, while some species might be readily identified with some generic description like "It was an extremely large black and yellow butterfly!" (In our geographical location it is most definitely Troides sp... most probably Troides helena) other descriptions like "small white butterfly" could be referring to any large number of "small, white butterflies" there are out there.

But then again, I suppose a casual observer usually isn't particularly interested in getting the species' identified down to a "t". In fact, I suppose it just thrills them to know of such things sometimes. Usually many are satisfied when I send them off with a tentative identification. I suppose that makes them happy, and it makes me happy that they are happy (or indeed, even taking an interest in such things to begin with!!!)  Meanwhile, for the lepidoperist who is trying to make a species count of butterflies in a particular area, it can be quite frustrating. Thank goodness I have Google images to help me with that these days!!! In the meantime, I wanna post a shout out to Brittanie of Insect's Galore!!! Thanks for cheering me up on twitter these past couple of days!!! Also I think anyone who comes here regularly should also make a stop at her blog!!! It's really a gem, and some of the pictures she uploads are simply amazing!!! 


I know how pain can grow when the rock you hold onto, is a love miles away.

1 comment:

Brittanie said...

*Gasp* Your collection is badass!! And this little post of yours spoke volumes to me as whenever I try and ID a butterfly I at least make sure to get it down to family and then describe the colors, wing shape, and patterns.

Funny I never realized I did this until I read this post. ^^;; I remember when I was 5-6 we had started raising Painted Ladies and I remember watching them one day and asking my mom "Why do they have 4 legs? They're supposed to have 6!" So we went and looked in the pamphlets they sent and sure enough they explained it down to the detail about "Nymphalidae" the BRUSHFOOTED butterflies blah blah blah.

I was hooked. But that's how I do my butterfly ID mostly. Pay attention to detail. Details are important.

Thank you for the shoutout!! It means the world and you cheered ME up today as I was in a right spot and reading about our lepidopteran friends from you.....♥ Thank you! *Hugs from America*