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Painted Lady / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

THEY FLUTTER AND FLOAT, SPARKLE AND SHIMMER, in our backyards and our bogs, in meadows and on mountains. No summer is complete without them. And now you can discover and enjoy butterflies and moths during a one-week field seminar I’m co-teaching this summer in Maine.

My lifelong friend and fellow entomologist Hugh McGuinness joins me to offer the Lepidoptera seminar at Maine’s Eagle Hill Institute July 12-18. We’ve designed the course for students at nearly every scale (pun intended). Whether you swing a net or point a camera, whether you have a preference for either moths or butterflies, our seminar will be thorough yet flexible. With two instructors, we’re offering a mix of field and lab instruction, including:

  • Morning lectures on ecology, conservation, taxonomy and family- and genus-level characteristics.
  • Afternoon outings for field identification of macro-lepidopterans, net-and-release techniques, specimen collection, photography, or your own field aspirations.
  • Hands-on sorting, identification, and, if requested, dissection of moth specimens trapped during the seminar.
  • Sleep deprivation owing to late nights with an abundance of live moths at UV lights.
  • Hours in the blissful company of moth photographs or trays full of specimens.
  • A more leisurely pace at wonderful field sites (from bogs to woods roads to wildflower meadows) not far from the Maine coast.

paonias-excaecatusThese spectacular insects can be either a 20-hour-per-day pursuit or a leisurely addition to your summer. During this seminar, any student seeking a general introduction to butterflies, for example, can be as busy as the lepidopterist looking to advance with particular macro-moth taxa. Students can complete this course without ever having to swing a net or touch a specimen, or by netting or trapping specimens and assembling their own reference collections.

Although we will generally learn as a group, Hugh will take the lead on moths in lectures, in the field, and at lights and traps at night (including night photography); I’ll cover butterflies in lectures and during field outings (including the finer points of net and binocular technique), and I’m the seminar’s lead instructor for field photography.

Contact me with any questions about butterflies, and " target="_blank">contact Hugh about moths. Below are a few links to more information on the seminar and a montage to get you in the mood:

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