Q&A with Robert Michael Pyle
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 …
The Book of Caterpillars
Edited by David G. James
The University of Chicago Press: 2017
Meet some of the world’s most wild, weird, and beautiful caterpillars. Using its own hairs, the lichen moth builds a basket around itself to stay protected during metamorphosis.
As the Red Helen caterpillar develops, its body starts to resemble a snake’s head. When threatened a red, forked appendage inflates from behind its own head, giving off an unpleasant … » More …
Galleries: Life histories of Cascadia butterflies
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 …
Very well off the beaten path
“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 …
The Melissa Arctic (Oeneis melissa) is the only species found in the Pacific Northwest that was not included in David James and David Nunnallee’s Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies.» More ...
Life Histories: The Butterflies of Cascadia
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 …
New & noteworthy
Images That Injure
edited by Susan Dente Ross and Paul Martin Lester
WSU English professor Ross and her colleagues examine pictorial stereotypes in the media.
by S.R. Martin, Jr. ’74
Blue Nile Press, 2009
Short stories of life in Seaside, on California’s Monterey Peninsula.
Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies
by David G. James and David Nunnallee
Oregon State University Press, 2011
A unique chronicle of the life cycles of the butterfly species native to Cascadia. Read the feature article.
The fate of a blue butterfly
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.
In 1988, Paul … » More …