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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Valley on Cruise Control


Note: The Valley Ripple has been on hiatus the past  few days. I left the Valley on cruise control while I attended the annual convention of the Lepidopterist Society July 8-11. Lepidopterists from around the world attended, and to have such a significant event so close to home was a once in a lifetime opportunity for this novice. 

The collectorI met many interesting and colorful people and participated in three field trips to visit several butterfly-rich locations.

Some highlights of the four day gathering were: participating in an all night mothing field trip; moth crew collecting butterflies on the summit of Chumstick Mountain where one can observe and collect (if you are a “watcher” or a “collector”) 87 species of Washington State butterflies; attending an evening barbeque at Red Tail Ranch where I had the opportunity to talk to other lepidoptera enthusiasts; and listening to experts in the field discuss a variety of bug-related subjects.Watching in the night






sphinx moth


I was fortunate enough to add three special butterflies to my collection: two Callophrys affinis washingtonia, the Washington hairstreak, a state butterfly rarely seen—at least for this collector. And I added another species to my collection of State butterflies, Heliopetes ericetorum, the Northern White Skipper, a butterfly I had never observed before. Netting this little beauty brought my collection of Washington State butterflies to over one hundred species.

On a more sober note, I was collecting at a puddling site in Swakane Canyon, Chelan County, on Saturday July 10, when a brushfire erupted in the Canyon. As of this morning the fire had burned over 12,000 acres and was only thirty per cent contained. A concern of mine was that the point of origin appeared to be in the vicinity of our collecting site, a lush riparian area where swallowtails throng to the mud for thePapilios minerals. Another party and I were at the site for an hour and a half and saw no sign of a fire, but as we exited the Canyon, we saw a plume of smoke up the valley. By the time I left, the fire had grown to over one hundred acres and smoke billowed up over the north hillside. On the way out of the valley I was stopped by a County Sheriff and asked to  give an accounting for my presence in Swakane His first question: “Did you have a campfire?” The cause of the fire is under investigation. I am currently monitoring the event and am anxious to learn how it started.


Bucket work Swakane Fire

The four days in Leavenworth were stimulating and educational. I learned many new things: collecting techniques, species’ habitats and food sources, and that there are “moth” people who are as passionate about these creatures of the night as I am about the butterflies,their day counterparts. What I learned most from the four day seminar, however, was that even after collecting and studying lepidoptery for forty years, I still don’t know very much. There is a lot yet left to learn.

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  1. Very cool b-i-l. Glad you were able to join your friends and find some new specimen...too bad about the fire...hope the butterflies flew off to safer environs.

  2. Great post Dad! I wish I could have joined you on your trip! The moth collecting has always been so fascinating to me. I was gifted a beautiful white moth the other day and have yet to identify it. Perhaps with your new knowledge, you can identify 'er for me! Sad about the fire...'tis the season, unfortunately.

  3. Yes, the lep convention was quite an experience: from the dusty, hairy, airy drive to the summit of Chumstick Mt. to the all night moth event in Tumwater Canyon (back at the motel at 3:40 a.m.)and being fire-driven out of Swakane Canyon--a most memorable four days indeed. TJ