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!

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Protandrena sp., photo by Valerie Bugh

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.

Mar. 27, 2017, 7 PM meeting: Native Bees, the Buzz in Your Backyard, presented by Karen Wright.

When people think about bees, the first image to come to mind is the honey bee. Sometimes folks even recognize that there is more than one species of bee; bumble bees, carpenter bees and sweat bees are also known by many people. But the reality is much more than that. There are more than 19,000 species of bees known to science and many more yet undescribed. Most native bees are solitary, meaning that they donít live in a hive and they donít have a queen. Most bees make bee bread, not honey. They range in size from three quarters of a millimeter to over two inches in length and come in many more colors than just black and yellow. They have complex relationships with the flowers that they pollinate and because of these relationships, the earth has been covered in a breathtaking diversity of wildflowers.

Karen Wright received a BA in Biology and a BS in Environmental Science at the University of Delaware in 1996. She became interested in insects while volunteering at the Southwest Research Station in Portal, AZ and started her masterís degree in Entomology at Oregon State in 1997. Her dissertation was on the true bugs and beetles of hazelnut orchards in Oregon. After her Masterís she worked for almost ten years for the Sevilleta Long-Term Research Program based out of the University of New Mexico doing mostly field work and data management. During this time, she developed an interest in native bee ecology and taxonomy and she started a long-term bee monitoring program and a plant phenology project that are currently in their 16th year. Karen took The Bee Course in 2001 and has become an accomplished bee taxonomist , specializing in the bees of the southwest. In 2009, Karen started her PhD program at the University of New Mexico in Dr. Kelly Millerís lab of insect systematics. She is currently wrapping up her dissertation on the evolution of diet breadth in Melissodes Latreille bees and is the new Assistant Curator of the Insect Collection at Texas A & M University. Her main research interests include native bee community ecology, diet breadth of native bees, and plant flowering phenology.

Apr. 24, 2017, 7 PM meeting: Wasps and Comics, presented by Carly Tribull.

*A related field trip will occur on Sun., Apr. 23. Time and location TBA.*

Have you ever found a caterpillar that seemed to be sporting some extra growths? Or the mummified husk of an aphid? Most likely, parasitoid wasps are to blame! These wasps are important controls on herbivorous insect populations, even if their lifecycle does require the gruesome deaths of their hosts. In this talk, Iíll explore two families of parasitoid wasps, Bethylidae and Dryinidae, and the potential they have for controlling major crop pests. I will also explore how molecular sequencing can help us better understand the taxonomy and evolutionary histories of these wasps and highlight the work my team of undergraduate researchers has been carrying out on local parasitoid species.

In addition, I will cover another passion of mine - the use of comics and games in entomological and biological education. While many think of comics as focusing on superheroes in spandex, the medium has diversified and grown to include educational works. Comics can successfully be used at a variety of levels, from elementary school classes to advanced coursework, because the combination of sequential images and text act as an intermediary bridge for understanding complex ideas.

Carly Tribull received a BA in Integrative Biology and Practice of Art from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011. Since then, she has worked to combine her interests in illustration and entomology. While pursuing her PhD at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History, she produced educational outreach comics about different types of wasps for children. Now a visiting assistant professor at Sam Houston State University, her research focuses on the local taxonomy and evolutionary histories of parasitoid wasps. She still continues to combine comics and education, with a current focus on creating comic materials for college lectures.


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

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