Lepidopterists lead exciting lives!
This from my LepSoc newsletter: Hi everyone; We will be doing a day trip to Tswaing crater, just north of Pretoria, on the 24th September, where special butterflies such as Brown-lined Sapphires, Saffron Sapphires, Hutchinson’s Highfliers, etc. can be seen.
Us lepidopterists see not only these high fliers, but others such as Skollies, Nightfighters, Pirates, Policemen and Admirals. Playboys, Pansies and Painted Ladies are also sought-after! One can go prancing after them wearing a pith helmet and waving a net! What’s not to love?
There’s even one called swanepoelii and one called brauerii
Lepidopterism is one of the more fun diseases to contract, and lepidopterists lead exciting lives!
Keep your net stockings on.
We off to Karkloof today. Will try to bring back a dead Karkloof Blue.
That and a Pink Elephant.
¶¶ . . and a Stuffed Delegorgue’s Pigeon, a Dead Cape Parrot and . .
¶¶ Planks from a Yellowwood Tree . . ¶¶
Hey! We could write a song like that . . .
A Real-Life Lepidoptometrist:
Hilton Pike is a nimble optometrist fella who darts around lithely with a butterfly net, holding it rather like Obelix doesn’t hold his menhirs. A talented lad, young Hilton, he builds fancy hi-fidelity speakers, refurbishes phoropters and mounts butterflies with pins on polystyrene in glass cabinets, all the while making children. Lovely chap, I miss him. Where is he?
One of me own: Lepi Fordus radiatorii
Swanepoel, David Abraham (1912–1990). Swanepoel began collecting in 1925. Pennington’s Butterflies of southern Africa (Pringle et al. 1994) describes Swanepoel as follows: ‘Probably no other person has spent as much time and effort in the pursuit of butterflies in the field as this great collector, who had the tremendous gift of being able to excite others about butterflies. His immaculate collection is in the Transvaal Museum. He discovered many new species and subspecies and published many descriptions of new taxa.’
His list of publications includes the book Butterflies of South Africa: where, when and how they fly, published in 1953 in Holland at his own cost. At the time, it was one of the most valuable reference guides to South African butterflies, citing his many collection localities across the length and breadth of South Africa. He collaborated closely with both Georges van Son and Ken Pennington. Popular names for many of South Africa’s butterflies were proposed by him. ( SANBI Biodiversity Series 16 (2010)6 ).
Swanepoel ended his book with these words: ‘In laying down my pen at the end of what has been to me a pleasurable task, I take occasion to dedicate this book to all naturalists and friends, without whose kindness and ungrudging aid it must inevitable have left much to be desired; and to those naturalists who may one day wander over the numerous paths that have afforded me so many happy, unforgettable hours – these would hardly have been possible without the grace of the Creator of all the beautiful forms described in this book. As mentioned in the introduction, this work is by no means complete, and if one day it is revised by some future observer, may he fulfil my dearest wish by building a great entomological castle upon this small foundation stone.’ (Epilogue of D.A. Swanepoel’s book, page 316).
Read more about David A Swanepoel and other pioneering flutterby enthusiasts here.
Here are three of the butterflies named after him:
steve reed wrote: When we lived in Clarens we had an annual visitation by what must have been the self-same Swanepoel. Saith Stephanus: “Khaki clad solitary figure, fleet-footing round the village with his net like something out of Peter Pan. Regarded by the locals with great interest (and a good level of suspicion ) . . “
I was lucky enough to meet Ivor Migdoll, who wrote the next butterfly book (as far as I know, the first field guide) in 1987. He came to me for his glasses in Durban, and we had some good chats and I loved using his book (since mislaid!).
And of course we are all lucky now to have Steve Woodhall, who has built on these two books’ foundations – as well as the big Pennington Butterfly ‘bible’ – and brought out his vastly improved field guide in 2005. He tells the story of how Ivor Migdoll became ill and quietly withdrew from public life. Pippa Parker of Struik Nature told him they were planning a completely new edition of the Field Guide to Butterflies (Ivor’s best-selling book) but could not get hold of him. He did some digging and discovered that Ivor had a horrible, little-known condition called ‘burning mouth syndrome’ and could hardly speak. Hence his reluctance. Damn!
And so this magic new field guide was born without Ivor’s input. That’s sad.