Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on September 18, 2008. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Lepidopterists discover lure of Mississippi during meeting
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi is a great lure for people who study butterflies and moths because of the unique habitats in the state and the Lepidoptera collection contained within Mississippi State University's renowned entomological museum.
The collecting opportunities and the museum significantly influenced The Lepidopterists' Society, an international association of professional researchers and amateur enthusiasts, to hold its 59th annual meeting in Mississippi for the first time this summer.
Participants from more than 25 states and three other countries traveled to MSU for the three-day event. The society welcomed presentations and posters from Lepidoptera fanatics as well as trained entomologists from such prestigious organizations as the Smithsonian Institute. Topics ranged from the latest research on DNA barcodes of Lepidoptera to the butterfly fauna of Madagascar.
“Many of the attendees had never visited Mississippi,” said MSU entomologist Richard Brown, director of the Mississippi Entomological Museum housed on campus at the Clay Lyle Entomology Building. “They left with a wonderful impression of our university and our state.”
Brown and his planning committee took advantage of the diverse habitats in northeast Mississippi to organize field trips to the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge and Osborn Prairie, a tract of land in the Blackbelt area of Noxubee County. The field trips gave participants the opportunity to collect numerous butterfly and moth species found there.
“The variety of natural habitats allowed us to schedule day field trips to collect butterflies and night field trips for moths,” Brown said.
One of the more distinguished participants was Charles Covell, author of “The Field Guide to Eastern Moths” in the Peterson field guide series. Covell, who was an entomology professor at the University of Louisville for 40 years, has attended at least 39 meetings of the society since it began in 1947. The visit was his first to MSU.
“The South is important as a good habitat to study moths and other insect species,” Covell said. “Dr. Brown did a wonderful job in providing opportunities to explore and collect species of Lepidoptera that frequent this area of the country.”
Naturalist John Acorn, host of the award-winning Canadian television series “Acorn the Nature Nut,” is president of the society. He said the diversity of Mississippi's natural habitats offers an adventure no further than one's backyard.
“Here in Mississippi, people can go out and see the natural world for themselves,” Acorn said. “They don't have to travel to an exotic locale.”