Our monthly meetings, which have been held regularly since 1993 at Zilker Garden Center, feature an educational program. All are open to the public and most are free. The Garden Center is located in Zilker Botanical Gardens, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX 78746.
- Apr. 14, 2018, 9 am to 5 pm: Spring Native Plant Sale: Public Day, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
- Members Only sale is Apr. 13, 9 am to 5 pm. More information.
- 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.
- May 28, 2018, 7 PM meeting: Bioblitzing on Vacation in Western Panama, presented by Chuck Sexton.
During a three-week holiday stay in December 2017, Chuck and Mary Kay Sexton enjoyed the biological diversity in and around Boquete in the ChiriquŪ Province of western Panama. They visited habitats ranging from coral reefs to cloud forests. Chuck ran a moth station with a UV light on 13 evenings of their stay at 5,000 ft elevation on the flanks of Volcan Barķ. The resulting moth diversity was stunning. Chuck will also highlight some of the other butterflies, insects, plants, and habitats encountered during the visit.
Dr. Chuck Sexton is a retired professional wildlife biologist who has spent almost all of his career based in Central Texas. He grew up in southern California and migrated to Austin in the mid-1970ís to attend graduate school. He received his doctoral degree in 1987 studying the impacts of urbanization on birds. With Greg Lasley, he was Texas regional editor for American Birds for many years. He has served on the Texas Bird Records Committee and the ABA Bird Checklist Committee. He worked in the City of Austinís Environmental Department for a decade, during which he had a hand in designing the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan. He worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for 16 year as the biologist at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, retiring from that position in 2010. He is an active eBirder and iNaturalist and continues to lecture and lead field trips.
- June 25, 2018, 7 PM meeting: TBA
- July 23, 2018, 7 PM meeting: TBA
- Aug. 27, 2018, 7 PM meeting: Beetles ~ Airborne Armor, presented by Valerie Bugh.
Of all animal orders, Coleoptera contains the most species. From minute specks almost invisible to the human eye to hefty insects that can cover your palm, beetles are a substantial segment of just about every terrestrial ecosystem. In spite of their abundance and diversity, beetles often go unnoticed by many people and, undoubtedly, part of their success is due to remaining so discreet. With tough outer body protection and the ability to fly, beetles are equipped to disperse and utilize habitats from desert to aquatic. We'll look at the variety, characteristics, life cycle, behaviors and relationships of these fascinating and beautiful creatures.
Val Bugh is a local naturalist specializing in the arthropods of the Austin area, with interests in taxonomy and photography. She runs the Fauna Project at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, leads insect discovery walks, teaches entomology courses, provides insect/spider identifications, gives talks to local organizations, and has published pocket guides to "Butterflies of Central Texas" and "Spiders of Texas." Website: Austin Bug Collection
- Sept. 24, 2018, 7 PM meeting: TBA
- Oct. 22, 2018, 7 PM meeting: Native Host Plants for Texas Butterflies, presented by Lynne & Jim Weber.
- While a wealth of native plant and butterfly field guides exist, ones that focus on the unique relationships between native plants and butterflies are few and far between. With the publication of Native Host Plants for Texas Butterflies, authors and photographers Jim & Lynne Weber, along with Ro Wauer, have filled this gap for Texas, beyond monarchs and milkweeds! Learn about these special relationships for butterflies (and some showy moths), explore why native plants are essential to healthy ecosystems, understand the role of nectar and host plants, and discover how these insects find the desired host plant species upon which to lay their eggs. You will leave with the knowledge and resources needed to encourage and appreciate a wider diversity of butterflies and moths in relation to their native host plants!
Lynne and Jim Weber are currently retired after long careers in the tech industry. Both are certified Texas Master Naturalists and Lynne is a past president of the Capital Area chapter. The Webers are dedicated naturalists who have served on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve Citizens Advisory Council as well as on boards of the Big Bend Natural History Association, the Big Bend Conservancy, and the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. They conduct Golden-cheeked Warbler and Colima Warbler surveys, guide hikes, restore native habitat, map invasive plants, and manage their privately owned 8-acre preserve. Their nature photography and writing have appeared in several publications, and they have co-authored Nature Watch Austin (2011), Nature Watch Big Bend (2017), and Native Host Plants for Texas Butterflies (2018).
- Nov. 26, 2018, 7 PM meeting: Member's Show & Tell.
- This is a fun meeting that we have every year.†Any member can show their favorite photos of the year or to tell about their a trip or butterfly experience. You have 5-10 minutes. There will be a projector and laptop so just bring your flash drive. Plus, the club provides pizza for this year end meeting! If you plan to participate contact .