Sunday, July 5, 2009

Seven Days until the Shreveport Count

I'm feeling the pressure. Jeff Trahan is the Shreveport NABA Count compiler. I've had the privilege to go butterfly counting with him (not for the count) on a few occasions. I've expressed interest in THE COUNT year after year, and then let it slip my mind. This year, I vowed to actually participate in THE COUNT, and to seal the deal, Trahan assigned me a section of the count circle.

My own section.

No pressure.

To prepare for this, I have been studying. Using the Roger Tory Peterson method, I've been comparing similar species and honing in on how to tell them apart. (That man was a genius.) Here are the sets I am scrutinizing:

1. The Dark Swallowtails
2. Two Ladies
3. Two Crescents and a Checkerspot
4. Two Sulphurs and a Dogface
5. Little, Dainty, and Sleepy
6. Two Fritillaries
7. Two Emperors
8. Two Pearly Eyes
9. Viceroy and Monarch
10. Question Mark and Eastern Comma
11. Three Satyrs
12. Three Duskywings
13. Silver-spotted Skipper & Hoary Edge
14. Three Cloudywings
15. Two Broken-dashes
16. Dun and Glassywing
17. Least Skipper and Southern Skipperling
18. Clouded and Zabulon
19. Fiery and Whirlabout
20. Eufala and Tawny-edged

To my credit, I am competent at 11 of these. That leaves 9 sets to study with only 7 days to go, which means I probably don't have time to post my study guides here.

Two awesome sources that I am using are Randy Emmitt's Butterflies of the Carolinas and Virginia, and Will Cook's Carolina Nature-Butterflies. The Carolinas apparently have all the butterflies we have in Louisiana, and then some.

Emmitt's site has a few quizzes you can use to test yourself (be careful with your mouse, though, or you'll spoil the game). He also has pages for each species, and a neat little trick where you can roll your mouse over the image and see identifying features highlighted. There is a list in the left column of each species page that links similar species, so you can click back and forth to compare the forewing spots and hindwing bands and such.

Cook's Site is visually stunning. You can read about identifying features in the little text blurbs to the right of the photographs. Buried in those blurbs are jewels of trivia, like why it is called a "Comma!"

Between these two sites and the Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East book, I might not embarrass myself next weekend!

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