The subjects of this brief report
are the "charismatic megafauna" of the insect world. Better
yet, the phrase "charismatic microfauna" seems appropriate.
If you wish, you can also think of butterflies as the "flying
flowers" of the insect world. Although some species are rather
nondescript in color and pattern; many are very colorful and boldly
In looking at animal diversity on
our planet and the relative diversity of various animal groups;
the iceberg analogy is useful. Butterflies are the easy to see tip
of the iceberg while the rest of the insect groups comprise the
vast amount of the iceberg that is not readily visible. The species
diversity of large animals with backbones - those that we most often
notice - pales in comparison to the diversity of small animals without
backbones, most notably the insects.
The place behind this story is the
Pend-d’Oreille River valley in the West Kootenay area of southeastern
British Columbia. Pronounce the name "pond-o-ray". Apparently
the name was coined by French-Canadian voyageurs in reference to
First Nation people that made a practice of wearing dangling shell
earrings. I believe that the Pend-d’Oreille valley is the "biodiversity
central" of the British Columbia butterfly world. Read on and
you will see why I have this belief.
I have deliberately written this
report with an informal style to ease the communication process
for readers with little prior exposure to the wonderful world of
butterflies - and besides, butterfly study should be fun !