Butterfly researchers to meet at WFU

From Mitchell’s satyr to the frosted elfin, researchers from around the world will gather to discuss butterflies and moths at the 51st annual Lepidopterists’ Society meeting hosted by Wake Forest University July 26-30.

Conference events are also open to local butterfly and moth enthusiasts. Registration is required.

Events will begin with a field trip to photograph local butterfly species. Led by Jim Nottke of the Carolina Butterfly Society, the group will depart from Winston Hall at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26.

Cabbage whites, silver-spotted skippers and Eastern-tailed blues are a common sight in much of North Carolina. But other butterflies are more elusive, according to Stephen Hall, invertebrate zoologist with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. At 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, Hall will discuss the most recent inventories of North Carolina butterflies and moths, including the list of 36 butterflies and 70 moths that are what he terms “significantly rare” in the state. He will also discuss the importance of “lepidoptera” in North Carolina ecosystems and describe current conservation programs.

Wayne Wehling of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will lead a discussion of the laws governing interstate transport of butterflies and moths for butterfly houses or environmental release.

Guest lecturer Fred Nijhout, professor of zoology at Duke University, will discuss the evolution of butterfly wing patterns during the afternoon session on Friday, July 28. On Saturday, July 29, a series of talks will focus on caterpillar biology. Organized by Deane Bowers from the University of Colorado, the caterpillar sessions will begin at 9 a.m.

Other speakers will present papers on topics such as monarch butterfly migration, a new species of skipper butterfly found in coastal North Carolina, moths in the tropical rain forest, and the tiger moths of the Galapagos Islands.

William Conner, professor of biology at Wake Forest, and his wife, Mindy, organized the meeting. Conner’s research focus is moths, including their sex pheromones and chemical defenses as well as their use of ultrasound. He has led field studies in North Carolina, Florida and the cloud forests of Ecuador.

The Lepidopterists’ Society, dedicated to the study and appreciation of butterflies and moths, was founded in 1947 and has approximately 1,600 members in 60 countries.

To register or for more information, contact William Conner at 336-758-5315 or visit the Lepidopterists’ Society Web site at www.furman.edu/~snyder/snyder/lep/.

Categories: Events, Research