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Previous Programs

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.



Sept. 25, 2017, meeting: Insects Unlocked, presented by Alejandro Santillana.

Insects Unlocked is a public domain project from The University of Texas at Austin’s Insect Collection (UTIC). In 2015, our team of student and community volunteers crowd-funded a campaign to create thousands of open, copyright-free images. From more than 200 small contributions, we built an insect photography field kit and photo studio.

Alejandro Santillana is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with an undergraduate degree in Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Alejandro’s introduction to insect photography and macrophotography took place as volunteer to the UTIC under Dr. Alex Wild. Alejandro is also an avid birdwatcher and field herpetologist, and spends half his time chasing wildlife across Texas and the United States, and the other half reading about them.


July 24, 2017, meeting: The Monarch Conservation Movement, presented by Katie Boyer.

The eastern migratory population of the monarch butterfly has declined by 80-90 percent in the past 20 years, which has prompted an international movement to conserve this majestic species.  This presentation will cover monarch biology and the conservation movement to recover the beloved insect.

Katie Boyer serves as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Monarch Outreach Specialist for Texas and Oklahoma, stationed in the beautiful and booming city of Austin, Texas.  In this role, Katie coordinates monarch butterfly conservation efforts with a variety of partners throughout both states in addition to leading outreach efforts to increase awareness of monarch and pollinator decline.  Katie previously served as a listing biologist, working with teams of scientists to analyze the status of species under the Endangered Species Act.  Katie holds a Bachelor of Science in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana and a Master of Natural Resources in Environmental Policy from Utah State University.  After the work day ends, Katie enjoys kayaking, hiking with her two dogs, and checking out Austin’s outstanding live music scene.


June 26, 2017, meeting: Caterpillar Gardening: Providing 21st Century Hosting Solutions, presented by Berry Nall.

Natural habitat is shrinking drastically as Texas' population skyrockets. It is crucial that we incorporate caterpillar hosts into our gardens and landscapes. A creative approach is needed  to identify key host plants and find ways to promote their use in local plantings. Berry Nall will share some of his successes - and failures - in gardening for caterpillars. He will draw on his experiences to suggest ways that concerned individuals and clubs such as ABF can help provide habitat for future butterflies.

Berry Nall is a pastor and teacher who is fascinated by butterflies at all stages of their lives. For the past 10 years he has been seeking to rear as many species as possible from egg to adult; living in Starr County near the Mexico border, he has had the opportunity to raise a variety of exotic tropical butterflies. His butterfly photos and life history studies can be seen on his website.


May 22, 2017, meeting: The Hows, the Whys, and the Butterflies of the Cockrell Butterfly Center, presented by Nancy Greig, Director emeritus.

This talk will cover the history of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and some of the interesting pros and cons of live butterfly exhibits.

Nancy grew up in the frozen northlands of Calgary, Alberta, but came to Texas in 1977 to attend UT and never went back. A lucky fluke sent her on a field course to Costa Rica in 1983 and she subsequently stayed on at UT to get a PhD in tropical plant ecology. Further serendipity and a push from her major professor, Larry Gilbert, landed her a job in Houston in 1994, as the director of a live butterfly exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Although not an entomologist, her background in tropical plants and insects served her well and she headed up the Cockrell Butterfly Center for 23 years. Last year she retired from her administrative duties and now enjoys flitting from public speaking, to gardening, to political activism, to travel adventures.


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

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, I’ll 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.


Mar. 27, 2017, 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 don’t live in a hive and they don’t 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 master’s degree in Entomology at Oregon State in 1997. Her dissertation was on the true bugs and beetles of hazelnut orchards in Oregon. After her Master’s 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 Miller’s 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.


Feb. 27, 2017, meeting: The Natural and Cultural History of the Long Expedition (1819-1820), presented by Mike Quinn.

The Long Expedition was the first exploration of the West that included trained scientists. The party of 22, under the guidance of Major Stephen Long, included botanist Edwin James, zoologist Thomas Say and artist, naturalist Titian Peale.. They traveled from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains and passed through the Texas Panhandle on their return. The "gentlemen scientists," on their expedition through "Great American Desert," collected and later described over 300 new species of plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians and birds.


Jan. 23, 2017, meeting: Butterflies of Panama, presented by Ron Martin and Dan Hardy.

We will talk about several recent tours to Panama searching for butterflies at The Canopy Lodge and Canopy Tower, both famous for birds.


Oct. 24, 2016, meeting: Native Bees in Agricultural Landscapes, presented by Sarah Cusser.

"I’m a fourth year graduate student in the Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior department at the University of Texas in Austin. Advised by Dr. Shalene Jha, my research investigates the composition and movement of native bee communities in agricultural landscapes here in central Texas.

Currently, I’m looking at the pollinators of both peach and cotton crops to determine what affect agricultural development has had on the composition and movement of the bee community as well as the quality of pollination service provided.

My research hopes to inform land management decisions that best promote the conservation and restoration of these important insect communities. In the past, I've worked on habitat restoration projects in California, Vermont and Ohio and in agricultural systems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania."


Aug. 22, 2016, meeting: Pollination, presented by Valerie Bugh.

The movement of pollen from stamen to stigma is a major issue for plants, and they cannot easily do it themselves. While bees are the first resource that comes to mind when pollination is mentioned, no ecosystem is simple; complexity demands multiple solutions to every problem. We will look at the various animals that interact with plants in this process, and discuss the expenditures, risks and compensations.

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


July 25, 2016, meeting: Fireflies of Texas: Glowing, Glowing, Gone!, presented by Ben Pfeiffer.

Ben Pfieffer will discuss the types of fireflies (Lampyridae) in Texas, why they flash and how they use light to communicate to potential mates. He will show you how to identify Texas species and discuss their distribution across the state. Pointers will be given on how to create a good habitat for fireflies in your own backyard. Ben will address specific threats to fireflies and discuss why they are disappearing in many areas of Texas.

Ben is Founder of Firefly.org, a firefly conservation and educational non-profit. He got his start with fireflies in 2009 after hearing about firefly disappearance in parts of the US. The website was created to educate those on how to help keep fireflies from disappearing. Since then, Firefly.org has grown in popularity and is currently the internet’s most visited website about fireflies. Ben’s work focuses on researching Texas firefly species. He is working on understanding Lampyridae distribution across the state, threats to its habitat and survival, and educating people on how to protect fireflies in their area. Ben studied biology at Texas State University and is a certified Master Naturalist. He is a lifelong native Texan and has spent most of his life working to understand Texas ecology and unique diversity.


June 27, 2016, meeting: Call the SWAT team: How to manage mosquitoes in the urban environment , presented by Todd Jackson.

Every year around this time a few citizens reach out to the Surface Water Team of the Watershed Protection Department because they think that droves of mosquitoes are emerging from the neighborhood creek or pond. City environmental scientists have found that this has not yet been true and that the real story is much more insidious.

Todd studied biology at University of North Texas where he investigated the use of insects as biological indicators to evaluate land management practices over time. Specifically, Todd examined the changes in grasshopper (Orthoptera: Acrididae) species assemblages on grazed versus non-grazed grasslands at Camp Bowie in central Texas.


Apr. 25, 2016, meeting: Behind the Scenes of the Peterson Moth Guides, presented by Seabrooke Leckie.

How many field guides do you own? Have you ever wondered what goes into making one? Seabrooke will share her experiences with the creation of the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, from idea to contract to publication, and compare the unique challenges presented by the followup guide to moths of the southeast. She'll also offer tips, drawn from lessons learned while working on the books, on how to improve your expertise on moth identification (or any other group).

Seabrooke Leckie is a freelance biologist and writer, co-author of the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. She lives in eastern Ontario, Canada, at a country house where she can enjoy nature just by stepping into her backyard. Her current undertakings include a new Peterson moth guide for the southeast (target release date: late 2017), pursuing publication of her novels, and a toddler.

This program is free for Austin Butterfly Forum members, but there is a $10 admission for non-members. (Or join ABF for $20 per household and attend all activities!)

Additional activities associated with Ms. Leckie's visit:

Apr. 23, Sat. 7:30-9:30 PM - Evening blacklighting at Austin Nature & Science Center (park under the MoPac overpass at 2389 Stratford Drive). This event will be open everyone for free. Bring a flashlight.

The following events free and open to ABF members.

Apr. 24, Sun. 9:00 AM - Walk at Austin Nature & Science Center (park under the MoPac overpass at 2389 Stratford Drive).
Lunch at The Shady Grove, 1624 Barton Springs Rd.
Afternoon walk at Brackenridge Field Lab (BFL) 2907 Lake Austin Blvd and/or tour of the UT insect Collection 3001 Lake Austin Blvd.
Dinner at Maudie's Tex-Mex Restaurant, 2608 W 7th St, Austin, TX (walking distance from BFL).
Evening blacklight at BFL - Bring a flashlight. We hope to set up lights near the BFL classrooms and another set down by the river. (BFL activities also open to BFL/UT Volunteers.)

Apr. 25, Mon. 9:00 AM - Walk at Barton Creek Greenbelt, (Barton Springs Pool trail head).
Lunch at Chuy's Tex-Mex, 1728 Barton Springs Rd (or Green Mesquite BBQ 1400 Barton Springs Rd).
Afternoon walk at Barton Creek Greenbelt (Hwy 360 entrance).
Evening ABF Program at Zilker: Behind the Scenes of the Peterson Moth Guides. Doors open ~6:30 PM.

Apr. 26, Tues. 9:00-11:00 AM - Walk at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, meet in the central courtyard (LBJWC entrance fees apply).


Mar. 28, 2016, meeting: How to Grow Native Milkweed, presented by Barbara Keller-Willy.

Barbara Keller-Willy, former corporate continuous improvement executive with Siemens Corporation, is now Founder and Director of a Fort Bend County non-profit, Monarch Gateway. Monarch Gateway seeks to create contiguous pollinator habitat across the coastal and central flyways of Texas. Ms. Willy is a current two-term State Commissioner and sits on an Advisory Board in the City of Sugar Land where she lives. She is a lead partner with the Field Museum in Chicago and US Fish and Wildlife in the creation of a multi-city Urban Monarch Conservation Plan, President-elect of the land conservancy, "Native Prairies Association of Texas" and serves in various roles in other community service organizations such as Rosenberg Lion's Club, Sugar Land Garden Club and Brazos Bend State Park. A certified Texas Master Naturalist with Fort Bend's Coastal Prairie Texas Master Naturalist chapter, she has long been a champion of our dwindling coastal prairie habitat and its inhabitants, some of which are endangered species or species of concern. Willy is caretaker and owner of a blackland prairie family homestead in Milam County. She is also committed to educating the children of our communities because they will be the future caretakers of our land.

Her interest in native prairie restoration led her on an eight-year quest to develop a propagation method for the finicky native milkweeds of Texas. Last year Willy donated 7000 native milkweed plants to pollinator projects across Texas. More than two years ago, Willy, in her role as Founder and Director of Monarch Gateway, began working with cities in Fort Bend County to create an Urban Pollinator/Monarch Conservation Model with the hope of expanding along the central and coastal flyways and other communities in Texas.. City employees from surrounding municipalities, but especially Sugar Land, helped develop a plan that would deliver meaningful results and be sustainable long-term.


Feb. 22, 2016, meeting: Giant Skippers: Fascinating Butterflies, presented by Bill Dempwolf.

Texas is in the middle of the world-wide range for Giant Skippers, which range from Costa Rica in the south to North Dakota in the north. Bill Dempwolf will discuss the fascinating life of Giant Skippers. Mounted specimens and yucca roots with immatures forming tents will be available for examination.

Bill Dempwolf is an engineer by education, but an enthusiastic amateur lepidopterist. Bill first became interested in butterflies as a youth, due to his father's interest. But school and starting a career interfered with butterflies until about 10 years ago. In the past 10 years Bill has taken many butterfly trips, including trips to Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Kentucky, as well as yearly trips to the Rio Grande Valley.


Jan. 25, 2016, meeting: Butterfly Farming: Following a Dream (or living a nightmare), presented by Dale Clark.

A somewhat light hearted look at the joys and frustrations of the day-to-day operations of a butterfly farm. Feeding thousands of hungry mouths every day is not for the fainthearted, but despite the sometimes seemingly overwhelming odds of hunger, disease, drought and/or floods, the life of a butterfly farmer can occasionally unearth some interesting facts about the lives of the native butterflies and moths flying around Texas.

Fascinated by butterflies and moths ever since he was a child, Dale Clark turned a lifelong passion into a livelihood. In 1995 he quit his full-time "real job" and created Butterflies Unlimited, a butterfly farm south of Dallas, TX where he began raising Texas native butterflies to sell to live butterfly exhibits at zoos all across the country, offering more than 50 species. That same year he also co-founded the Dallas County Lepidopterists’ Society, a local organization which allows people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to gather who share an interest in butterflies by going on monthly field trips. As if herding thousands of caterpillars on "the ranch" wasn’t enough to keep him busy, from 2006 to 2011 he became the editor of the News of the Lepidopterists’ Society, the international news magazines of one of the oldest organizations in existence (est. 1947) devoted to the study of butterflies and moths.


Oct. 26, 2015, meeting: How to Photograph Army Ants, presented by Alex Wild.

Army ants are among the most spectacular animals in warmer regions worldwide (including central Texas!) This talk will focus on how photographers can make use of the ants' natural history to create unique, compelling images.

Alex Wild is a professional photographer and Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas/Austin. Alex holds a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of California/Davis and has photographed insects as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work for over a decade. His research concerns ant taxonomy and evolution, and his photographs appear in numerous natural history museums, magazines, books, television programs, and other media.


Sep. 28, 2015, meeting: Land Snails of Texas: Diversity and Conservation, presented by Ben Hutchins.

Texas is home to approximately 200 species of terrestrial snails with a fascinating diversity of shell shapes, ecological requirements, and biogeography. However, as a group, snails are largely overlooked by the naturalist community because of their small size, cryptic habits, inaccessible habitats, and a lack of resources for identification. However, because of their wide distribution across the state and the long-term persistence of shells on the landscape, terrestrial snails can be an excellent subject for naturalists. Traditionally, identification of snails by naturalists has been hindered by a lack of accessible field guides. Texas Parks and Wildlife is currently working on development of an online resource to aid naturalists in identification and documentation of land snails in Texas.

Conservation of terrestrial snails is hindered by a lack of basic distributional data, as a consequence of cryptic life habits, incomplete sampling, and taxonomic uncertainty. Despite this lack of data, several Texas species are likely critically imperiled due to habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change. Citizens can play a role in documenting the distribution of Texas land snails, particularly non-native species that are frequently encountered around urban centers.

Ben Hutchins was born in Kentucky where he received his B.S. in Biology from Western Kentucky University. He received his M.S. in Biology from American University, Washington DC, studying the phylogeography of groundwater invertebrates in the Shenandoah Valley. After volunteering with the Peace Corps in Morocco, he moved to San Marcos, TX in 2009. He received a PhD in Aquatic Resources from Texas State University in 2013, studying foodweb structure in groundwater communities in the Edwards Aquifer. Ben is currently employed by Texas Parks and Wildlife as the state invertebrate biologist for the Nongame and Rare Species Program where he gained an interest in the state’s terrestrial snail fauna.


Aug. 24, 2015, meeting: Stingers! An Intimate Look at Wasps, presented by Valerie Bugh.

When it comes to diverse lifestyles in the animal kingdom, wasps provide some of the most intriguing examples. From minute parasitoids that complete their entire life cycle within the egg of another insect to large predators that can tackle a tarantula, wasps are both captivating and disconcerting. They are important biological controls of many pest insects, the social species are among the most successful animals on Earth, and the fact that some can sting makes them intimidating. We will explore the biology and ecology of this fascinating group through colorful photographs of the beasts and their behaviors.

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


July 27, 2015, meeting: Ant Identification, presented by Wizzie Brown.

Wizzie Brown is an Extension Program Specialist- IPM with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in entomology from The Ohio State University and a Master’s of Science in entomology from Texas A&M University. After leaving Texas A&M, Wizzie worked in structural pest control before taking a job with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Austin. Blog


Mar. 2015 meeting: Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas, presented by John Abbott.

John will autograph his book, Dragonflies of Texas. More information and examples of his fabulous photography can be found at Abbott Nature, Abbott Nature Photography, Flickr, and Facebook.

John Abbott grew up in Texas, falling in love at an early age with insects and natural history in general. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of North Texas in 1999 with a study of the dragonflies and damselflies of the south-central U.S. He took a faculty position at the University of Texas at Austin where he also served as the Curator of Entomology until 2013. At UT, John taught General Entomology and Aquatic Entomology and he has lead student groups to such exotic locales as Costa Rica, Honduras, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii and Mexico. His research focuses on aquatic insects, particularly the systematics and biogeography of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata). John has authored many papers on aquatic insects and written eight books on odonates including the just published Dragonflies of Texas. Since July of 2013, John has been at St. Edward’s University as the Director of the Wild Basin Creative Research Center. John is creator of several different Citizen Science based web sites including OdonataCentral, the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership, and Pond Watch. John also sits on the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) Odonata Specialists Group. Beyond these interests, John and his wife Kendra are avid nature photographers who own and operate Abbott Nature Photography. Their photographs have appeared in numerous calendars, magazines and books. John and Kendra are also currently working on the Peterson Field Guide to North American Insects and a book on the Common Insects of Texas.


Feb. 2015 meeting: How butterflies can teach us about Natural Selection, presented by Peg Wallace.

Charles Darwin published his thesis “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” in 1859. The idea of “evolution” is familiar to most of us, but the mechanism proposed by Darwin may not be as familiar. He called this mechanism “natural selection” to distinguish it from the type of changes in species that we can see brought about by human selection.

This discussion will outline the basics of evolution and natural selection using examples from the world of insects, especially butterflies. Peg Wallace has a Master’s in Geography from the University of Texas, and worked as a teaching assistant in genetics for 5 years. She is fascinated with the topics of genetics, evolution and ecology, and enjoys teaching these concepts.


Jan. 2015 meeting: How Do Butterflies Breathe?, presented by Dan Hardy.

Not like us! They have no lungs. Their skin is impermeable to air. They have a heart, but lack red blood cells. How do they pull this off?

Dan Hardy enjoys researching topics for club presentations. He has talked about Wallace and evolution, the butterflies of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, caterpillars and their food plants, and the biology of butterfly wing patterns. He is a pathologist and specializes in microbiology.


Sept. 2014 meeting: Butterflying in a Suburban Yard, presented by Jeff Taylor.

Jeff, a long-time club member, has spent many years cultivating a yard friendly to butterflies. He will share his knowledge on nectar plants, caterpillar food plants and backyard photography.


Aug. 2014 meeting: Digital Nature Journaling, presented by Valerie Bugh.

One of the most effective ways to learn more about the world around us is to keep a journal. By recording what we see, our observational skills improve, we gather more information, remember it better, and understand our place in the environment a little bit more. The traditional tools of the past (watching, listening, taking notes, drawing, telling stories) are still relevant today, but our kit has been expanded by computers, email, the internet and digital photography.

From the practice of watching nature to the sharing of information, this presentation will explore various aspects of studying our surroundings, with special emphasis on using a digital camera to record the minute details of what we discover.


July 2014 meeting: Butterfly Counts: Who Saw What Where?, presented by Jeff Taylor.

Each year during June and July, butterfly enthusiasts participate in hundreds of butterfly counts across the United States and Canada. What did they see? How many did they see? Where did they see them? What’s the most common butterfly seen? Learn the answers to these questions and more while attending the July 28th meeting. Forum member Jeff Taylor will provide a review of the Fourth of July Butterfly Counts coordinated by the North American Butterfly Association.


May 2014 meeting: Butterflies of Spain: Picos de Europa, presented by Ron Martin.

The New World may have the Monarch but Spain has the Queen of Spain and Duke of Burgundy fritillaries in addition to Cleopatra. There are also Peacocks, Cardinals and Brimestone, with a Gatekeeper. Club members, Ron and Susan Martin, have made several trips to Spain for casual birding and butterflying. Ron will report some of their finds and experiences in the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain.


Apr. 2014 meeting: Camera Workshop, presented by Ian Wright.

In this talk and workshop we will cover the basics and some advanced techniques of macrophotography. We'll start with a broad discussion about basic camera operation and equipment and then specifically focus on macro work. I will cover various types of macrophotography and the equipment involved in getting macro shots. I'll cover options for everything from cell phones to point and shoots to SLRs. My goal is to help you use your current equipment to get better shots! So bring your cameras! The second part of the talk will be a hands-on workshop with live insects. We'll get together in groups and practice some of the techniques discussed in the talk. Finally I'll discuss some post-processing work (including some advanced techniques like focus-stacking) and some ways you can share your amazing macro images!

Ian Wright is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. He grew up watching wildlife in southern California and got his first SLR in 2008. Since then he has been actively photographing the natural world. He is an avid naturalist and strives to communicate natural history with his photography. Recently, Ian has undertaken a project to photograph wildlife on white backgrounds and he is putting a book together on the jumping spiders of the US.


March 22, 2014 – Butterfly Field Trip starting at Zilker Botanical Garden at 9 a.m. Early Monarch discoverers Catalina Aguado and John Christian will be our guests. After Zilker, we will butterfly along Barton Creek.

March 24, 2014 – Butterfly Field Trip starting at Barton Springs Greenbelt at 9 a.m. Monarch expert Lincoln Brower will be our guest.

The Grand Saga of the Monarch Butterfly Research by Lincoln Brower

Sunday 7:30 pm, March 23, 2014
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, TX 78739

In this lecture, copiously illustrated with photographs ranging from electron micrographs to satellite images, Professor Brower will present a first-person account of his field expeditions and lab explorations, and describe the conservation issues that threaten the butterflies' unique migration and wintering biology. Professor Brower hopes that his audience will include curious naturalists and ardent conservationists of all ages and backgrounds. (more detailed description)


Discovery of the Monarch's Mexican Overwintering Refugia by Catalina Aguado, John Christian, Bill Calvert and Lincoln Brower

Monday 7:00 pm, March 24, 2014
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, TX 78739

Catalina Aguado, John Christian, Bill Calvert and Lincoln Brower will, together for the first time, recount their extraordinary experiences discovering the whereabouts of the Monarch's overwintering grounds in Central Mexico over the course of several years in the mid-1970's.


The Grand Saga of the Monarch Butterfly Research by Lincoln Brower

Tuesday, 7:00 pm, March 25, 2014
Zilker Garden Center
2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX, 78746

In this lecture, copiously illustrated with photographs ranging from electron micrographs to satellite images, Professor Brower will present a first-person account of his field expeditions and lab explorations, and describe the conservation issues that threaten the butterflies' unique migration and wintering biology. Professor Brower hopes that his audience will include curious naturalists and ardent conservationists of all ages and backgrounds. (more detailed description)


Speaker Biographies

Catalina Aguado is the only surviving member of the two person team, she and husband Ken Brugger, who discovered the overwintering colonies of Monarch Butterflies in the state of Michoacán and state of México in 1975. Zoologist Fred Urquhart had been studying the migrating habits of the Monarch Butterflies for over 25 years and wanted to find out where the North Central and Eastern Monarch populations vanished to for the Winter. Catalina and her husband Ken Brugger dedicated themselves to find The Monarchs after meeting with Fred and Nora Urquhart in 1973. After 2 years of searching Ken and Catalina discovered the first colony of Monarch Butterflies in Cerro Pelon in the State of Michoacán on January 2nd 1975. By the end of January of that year they discovered 5 colonies in The State of Michoacán and The State of México.

Catalina is a native of Michoacán. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin School of Social work and lives and works in Austin.

Catalina loves nature. She is an organic gardener, loves all bugs and specially the Monarch Butterflies.

SK films of Toronto, Canada depict the story of the Monarch Butterfly discovery in the film "Flight of the Butterflies" playing at The Bullock State History Museum here in Austin.

Catalina was awarded the 2012 Gold Medal "José María Luis Mora" by the State of México for eminent services provided to México and humanity with the discovery and conservation of the Monarch Butterfly.


Born in Texas, I was raised in Mexico ca. 1940s onward etc., mostly in Mexico City, mining towns, and other pueblos in rural areas. I had wonderful opportunities to travel with parents to many places like Pachuca, Cuernavaca, and later to sites not far from Monarch country. Introduced to natural landscapes and indigenous native culture and gradual awareness of photography. I journeyed later to Sam Houston State University for a B.A. in Business Administration with minor in English.

I first settled in Houston before leaving for Austin, the hill country, to be near the U. of Texas, its then Benson Latin American Library, and to meet Russell Lee, the first teacher of photography at U.T. Began to document in Texas and decided to return to Mexico to begin documentation of indigenous life and culture. In 1971 journeyed to the Sierra Madre Occidental, the longest cordillera in the world, to live among the Vixar-ritari (Huichol) Indians, their world, and that of their neighbors. Huichol land is 100s of miles north Monarch territory which is also part of the Sierra Madre Occidental, but a far different land. In 1976 I was awarded the prestigious University of Texas Dobie / Paisano Fellowship for my documentary work in the Sierra Madre Occidental.

In 1977, I was invited by Bill Calvert and Lincoln Brower, primarily as a translator, interpreter, and for my experience in the Sierra Madre, to join them on their journey to locate the elusive Monarchs, all of which was a honor and pleasure for me. This whole experience, in so many ways and almost indescribable, was and remains one of those unforgettable transformational experiences that are difficult to cast aside as if they were a mere piece of paper, and for this I remain thankful to my friends and many others.

Since then, I continue my documentation in Texas, related research and work on archives which include images, writing, working on publications, and exhibits, etc., either solo or collaborative, on both sides of the River. I have had work featured in numerous journals, newspapers, etc., such as Texas Monthly, Popular Photography, Mexico Desconocido, Ecotropics Journal, Duende, Mi Pueblo, El Imagen de Zacatecas, Cuarto Oscuro, etc. I am currently living and based in Austin. I continue my interest in projects, like hydroelectric and mining projects of the "open pit" kind, mostly in rural areas, that have a strong negative and damaging effect on and in rural areas, many of them related to natives who have lived there for years.

John Christian
Austin, March 4, 2014


A long time ago Bill Calvert took a degree in philosophy from the University of Texas and then went off to serve in Uncle Sam's Army. After two years of soldiering, he decided that he was a very poor soldier, and that he needed to do something practical. So he took up the study of butterflies. For his dissertation project he researched butterfly feet. After a varied career in many places and involving many insect types, he ended up across town (Amherst, Massachusetts) from Lincoln Brower, one of the world's experts on the monarch butterfly. They began a collaboration that continues today and which has produced over thirty scientific papers on the monarch.

Drawing upon his research experience, Bill established a business leading eco-cultural tours to the monarch over-wintering areas in Mexico, where adventurers could experience one of the most spectacular of nature's phenomena - tens of millions of monarch butterflies roosting in fir forests and flying high in the mountain air.

During his various explorations, Bill built a cabin in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and lived there for several years while conducting research with other biologists. He has traveled extensively and in collaboration with Bonnie Chase, (Otter Creek, Maine) expanded the natural history trips to include Central and South America. In January 2009 he was featured in the Nova special on the monarch butterflies.

Recently he retired from tour leading and became a lamp maker in Otter Creek, Maine. The general term for his lamps is “Steampunk”, meaning that they are basically found objects construed and fastened together in odd, artistic ways. These objects are found in flea markets, antique stores and sometimes trash dumps. They are assembled in a manner generally keeping to a central theme and are wired carefully adhering to Underwriters Laboratory standards.


Lincoln Pierson Brower is Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology, Emeritus at the University of Florida. Since 1997 he has been Research Professor of Biology at Sweet Briar College. He received his B.A. degree from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Yale, and taught at Amherst College for 22 years before moving to the University of Florida.

Professor Brower's research interests include the overwintering and migration biology of the monarch butterfly, insect chemical defense, ecological chemistry, insect mimicry, scientific film making, and the conservation of endangered biological phenomena.

Professor Brower has authored and coauthored more than 200 scientific papers, eight films, and two edited books, and is currently writing his magnum opus on the monarch butterfly. Awards he has received include the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale University, the Medal for Zoology from the Linnean Society of London, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Animal Behavior Society, and the Royal Entomological Society of London Marsh Award. He has served as President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the International Society of Chemical Ecology, and the Lepidopterists’ Society.

He is collaborating with governmental and nongovernmental groups, and other scientists and private individuals, to protect and restore the overwintering forests of the monarch butterfly in Mexico and is actively promoting the conservation of milkweeds throughout the USA.

Professor Brower and his wife, Sweet Briar Professor of Ecology Linda Fink, live with their two lovely German shepherds, two friendly cats, and are surrounded by abundant wildlife in Nelson County (all protected by conservation easement ad infinitum).


The Grand Saga of the Monarch Butterfly Research
Professor of Biology Lincoln P. Brower
Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar VA 24595

For more than half a century Professor Lincoln Brower has been investigating the biology of the monarch butterfly. Many of the widely known facts about monarchs which are presented in biology classes and nature documentaries have come out of his research on the monarch butterflies' chemical defense against predators and the ecological chemistry of the butterflies' interactions with their milkweed hostplants.

In 1977 Professor Brower made his first visit to the monarch butterflies' winter retreats, in the high mountains of central Mexico. Captivated by the extraordinary phenomenon of hundreds of millions of butterflies aggregating in the rugged fir forests, he began to explore new questions about the butterflies' migration and overwintering physiology, and these questions have taken him back to the overwintering sites on more than fifty expeditions. During his first expedition he also realized that the phenomenal migration and overwintering biology was threatened by logging in the winter roost areas, and he began conservation work with WWF-Mexico, government agencies in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, and numerous colleagues, that continues to the present day.

In this lecture, copiously illustrated with photographs ranging from electron micrographs to satellite images, Professor Brower will present a first-person account of his field expeditions and lab explorations, and describe the conservation issues that threaten the butterflies' unique migration and wintering biology. Professor Brower hopes that his audience will include curious naturalists and ardent conservationists of all ages and backgrounds.


Feb. 2014 meeting: Wallace and Evolution, presented by Dan Hardy.

Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin independently discovered the mechanism of evolution - Wallace on a collecting trip to the Dutch East Indies, Darwin at home in London. Darwin's detailed notebooks show what he was reading and thinking about during the development of his theory. We have far less from Wallace and his story requires some detective work. Recent scholarship suggests that insects were crucial to his breakthrough moment.

Dan is the program chairman for the Austin Butterfly Forum. He has been interested in Darwin ,Wallace, and evolutionary thought ever since reading essays by Stephen J. Gould, which then spurred him to take a history of science course at UT. He is grateful that the professor required reading Darwin's Origin of Species, something he might not have done on his own, but which led to a deeper understanding of its historical significance

He enjoys researching topics for club presentations. He has talked about the butterflies of the Barton Creek Greenbelt; caterpillars and their food plants; and the biology of butterfly wing patterns. He is a pathologist and specializes in microbiology.


Jan. 2014 meeting: Common and rare species: Patterns from across nature, presented by Roger Shaw

Have you ever walked through your garden, or a local park, and noticed how many Common Buckeyes there are? And how rare Mazans Scallopwings are? Wherever we go, and whatever part of nature interests us, we find that some species are common, and some species are rare. Why is that so? Are most species common, or are most rare? What determines whether a species becomes common or rare? We'll look across different parts of nature, but with a focus on our local butterflies, to answer these questions.

Roger Shaw is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin, studying ecology, evolution, and behavior. His dissertation research is on the ecology of dragonflies in north-central Texas. An avid birder from youth, Roger has also become interested in butterflies and dragonflies since moving to Austin in 2009.


Oct. 2013 meeting: Butterfly Gardening for Texas, presented by Geyata Ajilvsgi

Geyata has authored books about butterfly gardening and wildflowers. Her new book is Butterfly Gardening for Texas (Louise Lindsey Merrick Natural Environment Series).

Her favorite format is to open the floor to questions and allow the audience's interests to carry her from topic to topic. Judging from a previous talk, this is sure to be a popular meeting.


Sept. 2013 meeting: Butterflies of Vietnam, presented by Dan Hardy

This photographic tour of Vietnam and its butterflies will range from Saigon to Hanoi, from humid jungle to highlands where the climate is eternally spring. Among the exotic butterflies are the Dragontail, Blue crow, Plushblue. Palmfly, and Lacewing. Silk production is followed from caterpillar to thread. Plus, moths, beetles, tropical fruit, and landscapes.

Dan Hardy is an excellent speaker and photographer. Come join us for this introduction to a part of the world that we don’t often hear about.


Aug. 2013 meeting: Butterflies, presented by Valerie Bugh

There is a lot more to butterflies than just pretty wings. These insects are a dynamic component of the ecosystem and offer people a manageable glimpse into the complex world of arthropods. This program covers the major groups of butterflies, their predators, behaviors, challenges, life cycle, and survival strategies.


Aug. 10, 2013 workshop: Monarchs, Milkweed and You!

The Monarch population in Mexico last winter was the lowest ever recorded, and the butterfly was added to the World Wildlife Fund’s Top 10 Most Threatened Species List. Please join us for this educational workshop to learn what actions you can take to benefit this magnificent long distance flyer of the insect world. Topics will include the biology, life cycle and habitat requirements of Monarch butterflies and an overview of Monarch Watch and the Monarch Larval Monitoring Program conservation initiatives and citizen science projects.

Free with admission to Zilker Botanical Garden: $2 adult, $1 senior, $1 child 3-12 yrs.

About the presenters:

Dr. Kiphart is a Texas Master Naturalist (TMN). He has logged over 10,000 volunteer hours for TMN, presenting programs on Monarch Waystation, Bring Back the Monarch and the Monarch Larval Monitoring Program.

Cathy Downs is a TMN and the Texas chair and a certified educator for the Bring Back the Monarchs Program. She teaches Monarch biology, habitat and migration throughout Texas.

Mike Quinn has coordinated Texas Monarch Watch since 2000. Mike holds a master's degree in entomology from Texas A&M and has been active in monarch conservation for over 20 years.


July 2013 meeting: Bumblebees of Texas, presented by Michael Warriner

While most everyone has heard at least something in the news about declining bees, most press coverage has been about the plight of the non-native European honeybee. Very little attention is directed towards native bees, like bumblebees. Over the past few decades a substantial body of research has identified declines in bumblebee populations in Europe and North America. Bumblebees have gone virtually unstudied in most states in this country despite their critical roles in agriculture and natural ecosystems. There is a real need to evaluate bumblebees in the United States to assess how their populations are faring and if conservation actions are needed.

Michael Warriner is currently the invertebrate biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Prior to coming to Texas, he worked as the invertebrate zoologist for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and as a research associate in entomology at Mississippi State University. Michael’s website: Texas Bumblebees.


May 4, 2013 workshop: 7th Annual ABF Butterfly Workshop

Learning to identify common butterflies of our area is only one aspect of the Austin Butterfly Forum’s Annual Butterfly Workshop. Other topics covered will include appropriate nectar and caterpillar food plants, how to raise caterpillars and watch metamorphosis at home, strategies for caterpillar survival, as well as discussion of a variety of field guides, references and other resources about this rapidly growing hobby. A number of experienced entomologists will be on hand to personally answer any questions participants might have.

The workshop will also include a light lunch and a hands-on walk to identify butterflies at Zilker’s Doug Bachly Butterfly Trail. Participants will be given a selection of plants to take home to begin attracting butterflies to their own gardens.

Cost is $35.00 payable at the door. It costs $3 to park at Zilker Garden. Arrive at the Garden by 9:30am to ensure a parking place.


Sept. 2011 meeting: Wild Silks of the World, presented by Richard Peigler, Ph.D., Incarnate Word College, San Antonio.

More than 95% of all silk in commerce comes from the domesticated silkworm that feeds on mulberry. However, silks from several kinds of moths in the familes Saturniidae and Lasiocampidae are also exploited in China, India, and other countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. This presentation covers the non-mulberry silks. Images include moths, caterpillars, textiles, and people spinning and weaving these silks.

You may arrive up to 15 minutes early to chat with other bug lovers. The meeting begins shortly after 7pm. We start with members sharing observations, do a little bit of club business, and then begin the presentation. The presentation is usually an hour long, and we're typically closing the meeting between 8:30 and 9:00pm.


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