Saturday, August 8, 2009

about IDs

acmon blue
Plebejus acmon

I see other people's beautiful butterfly pictures and a flood of envy fills me. Truth be told, I'm generally more interested in my hiking and getting to the next place than I am to take the time to capture a great photo (a social commentary can be made of this, but I'll skip it here). However, at a certain point if the photo is so out of focus, it may be of little use to stop at all to attempt an ID. This blog has helped me pause a little longer than I may have previously. Maybe next year, I'll have even better photos to post.

There are several different small, blue butterflies in the area, but I don't want to resort to netting just to satisfy my need to make an ID. I'll admit that in my eagerness, I'm not the most gentle of netters. Plus, I'm generally opposed to collecting various things, be it animals, plants, trinkets, or gadgets... well, ok, I do have an e-photo collection that's overloading my computer right now. My college insect collections are stuck in the garage with little fanfare and are probably destroyed by dermestids by now. I make for a poor entomologist.

There's a movement amongst lepidopterists to use e-photography in place of standard collecting and spreading techniques, similarly to the post-Peterson guide era for birds. Can you believe people used to shoot, kill, and stuff birds simply to identify them? Unfortunately, dissection of genitalia is often needed to make a positive ID of many insects. I hope someday this will change.

For most plants and animals, I assume I have found something very common locally. I will rarely, if ever, claim I somehow had the luck to capture an incredibly unusual species. There's so much still unknown or uncertain or debated, that I'm not going to attempt to tackle it here. Remember, I don't claim to be an expert!

ps 06/06/11 - Since I wrote this blog post, I have learned a little about the rarer species found locally, and I have sought out the opinions of people I consider experts. You can find those posts under * expert ID.

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