FIELD GUIDES: Butterfly Net

Science  16 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5511, pp. 2053c
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5511.2053c

Butterfly enthusiasts—or people simply wondering about the pretty insects fluttering through their backyard—can turn to Butterflies of North America, an online atlas. Visitors will find photos, county checklists, and details about the feeding habits, migration, and conservation status of nearly 750 Lepidoptera species. The bog copper shown here (Lycaena epixanthe), for example, makes its home in cranberry bogs in the eastern United States, where caterpillars dine on shrubs and adults on flower nectar.

The atlas also links to fact sheets explaining such matters as how to raise butterflies and how they differ from moths. (Hint: Butterflies usually have clubbed antennae.) And it lists e-mail addresses of state “butterfly coordinators,” who will help identify specimens and verify new sightings. Both professional and amateur lepidopterists contribute to the atlas, which is hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Curious about other insects? The center also maintains Web atlases of North American moths, dragonflies, and mayflies.

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