This November’s eButterflyer of the month is Daniel Jones from Texas. Dan joined eButterfly last spring and has been an extremely productive eButterfly user and our top Texas contributor ever since! He is currently ranked second for the number of species recorded in 2014 in our top 100 with 132 species from 47 checklists contributed and 266 photos, several of which are the first example of a species in eButterfly’s photo collection. He has had a significant contribution to the number of species now recorded in the eButterfly database who recently passed the 600 mark. This number just increased recently as Jan Dauphin and Ginny Musgrave discovered a new species for the United-States on October 31st : The Green Flasher (Astraptes talus Cramer 1777) and Dan was able to observe with them one hour after their discovery! We asked Dan few questions between his always extremely productive butterfly outings.
Why butterflies and how long have you been at it?
As a kid growing up in the countryside of southwest Missouri I was a nature nut and remember collecting Common Buckeye chrysalises during school recess and hatching them in a match box. Once in a while I would get lucky and find the beautiful gold-spotted chrysalis of a Question mark. I would also raise the Black Swallowtail caterpillars I would find on the dill in our garden. But I got distracted by herps and later in college got interested in birding. Eventually I moved to southeast Arizona and later to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. During this time I would make frequent birding forays deep into Mexico and about ten years ago bought a copy of Butterflies of Northeastern Mexico by Garwood and Lehman because I wanted to be able to ID some of the fantastic butterflies I would see down there. Also at this time I would occasionally bump into Benton Bashan, one of the original founders of the American Birding Association and top North American lister, who had become quite fanatical about butterflies. I remember him showing me my first Mexican Silverspot. So I just got more involved and observant about the butterflies I was seeing as I would go birding. Then I bought Kenn Kaufman’s and Jeff Glassblerg’s butterfly guides and I got really hooked. Not only is the Rio Grande Valley the premiere birding destination in the United State, because of it southern latitude and subtropical climate, it often hosts rare stray butterflies from nearby Mexico. It is always exciting. Now that I’m retired after thirty years of teaching high school math I have lots of time for chasing and photographing butterflies.
What do you like about eButterfly?
As a long time user of eBird I was hoping that someone would write a butterfly recording program that would make record and list keeping fun and dynamic. I wrote to the eBird leaders about starting such a program and they said they would like to but it wasn’t feasible at this time. And then I found eButterfly which does many of the same things as eBird. I like that I can store a list and that each species record is separately archived. I like that I can search the data base for records of a particular species. I love the photo storing capabilities. One feature that eButterfly has that eBird lacks is the ability to host photos. eBird requires a link to a photo host. As a competitive and compulsive list keeper I like the ability to compare my list totals to others and see where I rank. Lots of birders are becoming interested in butterflies and I think the top 100 feature will eventually attract them to eButterfly. The eBird people refer to it as a “carrot” to attract birders to submit data. The bottom line is there are a lot of people out there observing butterflies and eButterfly is a method to coax students of nature to submit data that could be useful to many but otherwise might be lost.
Where you would like to go eButterflying next?
I have visited Ecuador twice on birding trips and totally ignored the butterflies. I would like to return and make amends. North America has many places I would like to visit. Of course I want to spend time in southeast Arizona and see some of the many butterflies I ignored while I lived there for nine years.
What is the next species you would love to discover?
Basically I want to visit any area that has a hairstreak I haven’t seen. I love hairstreaks.
We wish all the possible hairstreaks to Dan over the coming months as many of our northern eButterflyers will probably live vicariously through some of Dan’s winter checklists!