Robert Michael Pyle on butterflies, Bigfoot, becoming a Nirvana fan, and working with legendary grunge musician Krist Novoselić (’16 Soc. Sci.) on an album ten years in the making
It started with a book-signing. That led to some beer-drinking, which led to lots of Grange meetings and—finally—recording.
Throughout the better part of a decade, award-winning author, lecturer, and lepidopterist Robert Michael Pyle worked on a spoken-word album in which poetry about the natural world meets acoustic instruments played mostly by grunge icon Krist Novoselić (’16 Soc. Sci.), founding member of and bassist for Nirvana.
Butterfly Launches from Spar Pole, released last fall, began with … » More …
I recently learned that drivers for UPS make 90 percent of their turns to the right. Since 2004, the package delivery company has had a policy to avoid left turns. They save millions of gallons of fuel and dollars each year because there’s less idling.
While I applaud the UPS effort to save gas and reduce emissions, there’s still something adventurous about the left turn, the unexpected veer in a new direction. We often refer to a left turn as a complete shift in our lives. Some of us even change our entire careers, such as Washington State University alumni Berenice Burdet, Richard Larsen, and … » More …
“There he is!” I look up as tattered orange wings flutter above the sunflowers. A lone male monarch butterfly hovers near the milkweed patch, gallantly hoping, says wildlife ecologist Rod Sayler, for the arrival of a female.
The scene took place early last August at the Washington State University Arboretum and Wildlife Center, where for the first time in 25 years, Sayler documented the iconic butterflies living and breeding on campus. Weeks earlier, to his astonishment, he’d found a handful of monarch caterpillars devouring the leaves of recently restored showy milkweed plants.
“The monarchs were a big surprise for me,” he says. “It’s the first … » More …
A glorious sunny day in April after a long cool spring, it is Earth Day in Cowiche Canyon near Yakima, and the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy is hosting an educational field day. Scores of people armed with water bottles and binoculars are ambling down the trail toward presentations on birds, salmon, and geology as well as butterflies. Executive director Betsy Bloomfield fills me in on the conservancy’s endeavors as she guides me downstream to a station manned by David James.
James, a research entomologist at the Irrigated Tree Fruit Research Center in Prosser, has with coauthor David Nunnallee published Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies (Oregon State … » More …
A century or so ago, late spring in Oregon’s Willamette Valley saw waves of delicate blue and brown butterflies across a million acres of prairie, lighting on equally delicate lupines to lay their eggs.
At least we can imagine it that way. The region has long since been settled and farmed, and the prairies were the first to go. With them went the vast number of Fender’s blue butterflies and their host plant, the Kincaid’s lupine. The butterfly appeared to the eye of science only briefly, first in 1929, and occasionally until 1937. Then it vanished. Scientists assumed it was extinct.
Like many children, Chris Hunter Hebdon enjoyed being outdoors, searching for insects on the ground, in the water, and on plants. Beetles were her favorite.
Her love of insects came from her mother, who, when she returned to school to become a biology teacher, took Hebdon with her on field trips in the Walla Walla area.
Hebdon’s fascination with creatures that crawl, fly, hop, and squirm intensified while she was a student at Washington State University (’74 Entomology), and it has metamorphosed into a growing business-the Susquehanna Butterfly Co.
From late May well into October, her booth at a farmer’s market in the Binghamton, New … » More …