Austin, Texas, is home to about 170 species of butterflies. It is also the home of the Austin Butterfly Forum, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to butterfly conservation and to enriching people's lives through butterflies. The Austin Butterfly Forum is a club that organizes field trips, conducts butterfly counts, promotes native gardening, performs conservation activities, and meets monthly for an educational presentation. We are a community of butterfly enthusiasts who also enjoy dragonflies & damselflies, bees, beetles, spiders and arthropods in general, and our meeting presentations span this gamut as well. Join Us!

calendar ~ publications ~ archives ~ resources

Hypselonotus punctiventris by Eric Eaton

Meetings are held in the Zilker Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX, 78746 at 7:00 PM on the fourth Monday of each month except December.

Apr. 23, 2018, 7 PM meeting: Beyond Birding: The Joys of Bugwatching, presented by Eric Eaton.

(Admission is $10 for non members, free for members; you can join at the door.)

Insects are wildlife, too. The average person may consider them to be pests, but "bugs" have increasing value as observable non-game wildlife, akin to birding. Insects have many attributes to recommend them as organisms to pursue with magnifier, notebook, camera, and digital devices.

Their diversity, beauty, fascinating behaviors, and close proximity (your backyard or even basement will have its own fauna) make insects worthy of more than a passing glance. Sure, they offer their own set of challenges; but the rewards, both personal to the observer and collective in terms of scientific knowledge, far exceed those gained even from birding.

Unless a given insect has economic impact, positive or negative, chances are we know next to nothing about it. Predator-prey relationships and host plants are known for only a fraction of the approximately 90,000 insect species occurring in North America north of Mexico. The knowledge of geographic distribution for each species is even more fragmentary. The average person looking for insects regularly is almost guaranteed to produce county records, if not state records, or discovery of a new species.

Tools for observing insects, and resources for identifying them, are now more plentiful than ever, available in a variety of media. Yes, the learning curve can be steep given the "obstacles" of camouflage, mimicry, sexual dimorphism, and metamorphosis that insects present, but those hurdles can be overcome with persistence, and help from entomologists who are now more accessible than ever before.

Prepare to be entertained and informed by this introduction to "bugwatching." I can assure that you will become hooked on insects, and eagerly welcomed by the friendly entomological community.

Eric R. Eaton is a writer who has worked as a professional entomologist for the Cincinnati Zoo, Chase Studio, Inc., and on private contract for the Smithsonian, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, and University of Massachusetts (Amherst). He engages the public in person, and online through his blogs Bug Eric and Sense of Misplaced. He is principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, and has contributed to several other books. You may have seen his articles in Birds & Blooms, Ranger Rick, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society), Missouri Conservationist, and other popular journals. He won a national award for Wonderful West Virginia magazine for a feature article on assassin bugs. Eric grew up in Portland, Oregon, and has lived in Cincinnati and Tucson. He now resides with his wife, Heidi, in Colorado Springs.

In connection with Eric's talk, there will be several field trips during his visit to Austin:

Sunday, April 22 @ 9 AM
Brackenridge Field Laboratory
2907 Lake Austin Boulevard, Austin, TX
(anyone arriving late should call Mike Quinn @ 512-577-0250 to get let in)

Sunday, April 22 @ after lunch
University of Texas Insect Collection
Department of Integrative Biology
Lake Austin Centre (LAC) Building
3001 Lake Austin Blvd #3.141
(anyone arriving late should call Mike Quinn @ 512-577-0250 to get let in)

Monday, April 23 @ 9 AM
Barton Creek Greenbelt
access at the Barton Springs pool trail head
2131 William Barton Dr, Austin, TX

Tuesday, April 24 @ 9 AM
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, TX 78739

May 5, 2018, 10 AM to 4 PM workshop: How to Know and Grow Austin Butterflies

The Austin Butterfly Forum is hosting a Butterfly Workshop on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at Zilker Botanical Garden Center. The workshop is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Topics will cover butterfly identification, common caterpillar food plants, how to raise caterpillars and watch metamorphosis at home, and strategies for caterpillar survival and identification. The workshop will include a light lunch and a walk to identify butterflies in the Zilker Botanical Garden.

To register, please contact Jeff Taylor at 512-825-8368 or .

Fee for the workshop is $45.00.


All of our normal events are open to the public, but you may want to become a member of the Austin Butterfly Forum to help support us and our events. We also treat members to some extra goodies, such as reduced admission to special programs that have a fee and discounts on purchases made at meetings. Membership is $20 annually per household payable during meetings or by mail to Doris Hill, ABF Treasurer, 1605 Broadmoor, Austin, TX 78723.

For more information, please contact Mike Quinn, ABF president at 512-577-0250 or

calendar ~ publications ~ archives ~ resources