The First Butterfly Big Year

In 2008, noted lepidopterist, writer, and Xerces Society founder Robert M. Pyle undertook a historic journey to find, experience, and identify as many of the 800 American butterflies as he could find. Bob’s book Mariposa Road: The First Butterfly Big Year, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, recounts his butterfly adventures and his 488 sightings.

A special thanks to the many people who contributed to this effort by pledging the Butterfly-A-Thon. All proceeds from the Butterfly-A-Thon benefit the Xerces Society’s projects in rare butterfly conservation.

Bob Pyle’s notes from the road:

bumble bee watch

Leona’s little blue butterfly one step closer to protection

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines that a Klamath County, Oregon butterfly may be threatened with extinction and initiates a status review For immediate release: August 17, 2011 Contact: Sarina Jepsen, Director, Endangered Species Program, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; 503-232-6639 ext. 112, sarina@xerces.org PORTLAND, Ore. — In response to a petition from the Read more …

Postscript to the Butterfly Big Year Blogs: Not Far Tortuga, But Close

The trip is finished, and so are the blogs, but I wanted to provide a brief coda to bring it all back home. As you know, the Orion and Xerces blogs have carried different, complementary content all along, But for this little epilog, I’ve decided to send a single note to both sources, and to do it with electrons via Thea’s computer. Forgive me for not mailing any doodads or tree trunks or trash bits from the road this time…

December 26, 2008

Aloha, indeed! Thea and I have just returned from Hawaii, the penultimate stop on the Butterfly-a-thon express, or milk train, or tramp steamer…Once we’d skipped from Oahu over to Kauai, we lodged first at this simple and seductive country retreat, run by the 7th Day Adventists.

December 12, 2008

Once back in South Texas for the third immersion in the tropical winter fauna, I returned to the galaxy of gardens and preserves populated by Tex-Mex butterflies and their many human devotees…

November 29, 2008

From Zapata down to Brownsville and around to South Padre, nowhere in the US approaches the diversity and abundance of butterflies in the Valley…

November 19, 2008

Since my short trips to Florida and North Carolina, I’ve been back in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, reveling among the many tropical and subtropical butterflies that can be seen nowhere else in the U.S. Mostly its a matter of going from one world birding center to another…

October 31, 2008

FLASH! As of today, I’ve driven Powdermilk 30,000 miles this year, and found 400 species – half of the U.S. and Canadian fauna…

October 3, 2008

Chiricahuas. Once I reached Arizona, the abundance and diversity of butterflies soared…

September 16, 2008

My end of summer marathon led from the High Country of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem (including a face to face with a young grizzly in Grand Teton) to a splendid shrubby cinque-fen in northern Maine…

August 14, 2008

Now comes the hard crunch-time when summer runs down and many northern near, or pass, their flight periods. If I don’t see them soon, I won’t see them at all this year…

August 7, 2008

After Alturas, I made time south to Mono Lake. Then, on a clear morning, up to Tioga Pass on the edge of Yosemite. There I finally encountered a life long dream: the small green Behr’s sulphur, whose first collector was said to have been killed by the Indians…

July 14, 2008

It might seem that Illinois after Alaska would be an anticlimax at best, but not so! My excursion into the heartland, prowling Deepest Midwest, satisfied two lifelong desires: seeing my first Baltimore Checkerspot, an enormous female, her wings so broad you could play checkers on them; and standing in a meadow thronged with hundreds of big, bright Regal Fritillaries…

June 19, 2008

I had to laugh when I read my rather lame Alaska posting. From the way I repeated myself and my description of the all-night sunshine, readers may have guessed that I was extremely short of sleep! Anyway, that’s my excuse. I even managed to omit the name of that “lepidopterist extraordinaire,” who was in fact Dr. Kenelm W. Philip, Senior Research Associate with the Institute of Arctic Biology…

June 15, 2008

Between New Jersey and the North Slope, a quick trip to Southern California for a faculty committee meeting. I took advantage of the flight to seek some extreme endemics in San Diego County and back on Catalina Island again…

June 2, 2008

Following a ceremonial visit to New Haven, Conn., I’d hoped to seek the storied Early Hairstreak (Erora laeta) in upper New England’s old beech woods. But the season was retarded, and the forecast foreboding, and the best site closed…

May 16, 2008

Gray’s River. Hitting the coast and heading north toward home, I especially wanted to visit two of my favorite butterfly conservationists. In San Francisco, I caught up with Liam O’Brien – an actor and artist turned lepidopterist…

April 19, 2008

Heading to the Magdalene Mountains, New Mexico. Long trains of coal, chemicals & lifestock roll up the valley just west of the Sacramento Mountains, east of the White Sands Missile Range, where the first atomic bomb was exploded at the Trinity Site…

March 28, 2008

Dear Xerces friends, After remarkable days afield in Florida with great butterfly watchers and lepidopterists including Buck & Linda Cooper, Alana Edwards, Kathy Malone, Jaret Daniels, and Andy Warren, and on my own, my species total has swelled to 104 as I leave the state…

March 17, 2008

So I actually made it here – what a long, long way from Gray’s River! I have explored pines and palmettos, cypress swamps and sawgrass glades, butterfly gardens, parks, and roadsides, and greatly expanded the species count…

February 27, 2008

This 109-year old namesake could well be me, trundling out of my modest digs, back out into the dry desert dust – at about this pace…

January 31, 2008

After spending time with Monarchs at Santa Cruz, Pacific Grove, Esaden, Pismo Beach, and Santa Barbara, I skirted the snows of the San Bernardinos and crossed over to Yucca Valley…

January 11, 2008

After a lucky California tortoiseshell overwintering in our wood shed on January 1, I headed down the coast…

December 20, 2007

Welcome to my journey. This may be the only report all year that I actually type, as I have not yet departed and still have access to e-mail. Throughout 2008, I will be off-line and dispatching reports by hand, from various rural mailboxes around the land…

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