This morning I was 1/2 way through William Leach’s Butterfly People, which has been captivating me quite a few times. Many of those especially interesting parts discuss what it was like … to have been in the field in the last half of the nineteenth century, roughly from 1850 through the 1890’s. OMG!
Just as I sometimes daydream about what Pittsburgh homes must have been like in that timeframe (many have been razed over time), so have I wondered about how trips into the field could have been then?
Leach shares the experiences of Samuel Scudder, whom I have been introduced to for the first time, Scudder is largely responsible for having introduced the first exhaustive butterfly field guides, pioneering the examination of the life histories of many, many north american and international species.
The passage that buzzed me?
Scudder, in Every-Day Butterflies: A Group of Biographies (1899), ” The tiger swallowtail collecting literally by the thousands, and when startled, filling the air with a yellow cloud….[clouded sulphur bursting forth] on meadow-bordered highways after rain, coloring the ground as they sit by the thousands with erect wing….[pipe-vine swallowtail] particularly fond of flowers and sometimes clustering on them in vast numbers,,,,[regal fritillaries] most abundant in the middle pastures of Nantucket.”
Wow! Wow! What have we (We?) done?