Arctic Oeneis Butterfly Project

 NEWS! (24 January, 2020) The fourth and last Arctic Oeneis data transcription expedition on  Notes from Nature was completed on September 20, 2019. We greatly appreciate the volunteers who embarked on this journey with us and helped collect data for 5,857 specimens of Arctic Oeneis. We’re almost done entering those data in the collection’s database. Thank you!!

The butterflies of the genus Oeneis are commonly known as “Arctics” because they are adapted to living in Arctic conditions. They overwinter as caterpillars and in the harsh cold environment it may take them ~2 years to develop from egg to adult.  The dorsal surface of these butterflies ranges from dull orange to various shades of brown and gray, while the ventral surface is beautifully mottled to appear like the rocky terrain and tree bark these butterflies rest upon. Arctics are strong, fast fliers that are difficult to collect on gusty mountain tops.

The Parshall Collection, added to the Triplehorn Insect Collection in 2015, includes a vast number of Arctic butterflies and those specimens have already aided in the description of Oeneis tanana, the Tanana Arctic butterfly. This material will be important for use in future taxonomic decisions regarding Oeneis species concepts. It also may prove very important in understanding the impact of climate change in the Arctic region.

In order to take full advantage of the information of this rich resource we must digitize the specimen label data and determine the coordinates for the locality where the specimens were collected. We are reaching out to the vast community of citizen scientists interested in insect biodiversity to help us capture the specimen data for the Arctic Oeneis butterflies in our collection.

Geographical range for the genus Oeneis (Source: IDigBio 2018)

Tutorial [link]

Check out our quick tutorial to Oeneis label data transcription.

Specimen Photography Process [link]

Imaging stage and setup.

Imaging stage with lights.

Imaging Contributors [link to directory]

Morgan and Evan imaging Oeneis butterflies

For over 2 years a number of staff, undergraduate students, and volunteers from the community have worked on imaging Arctic Oeneis specimens at the Triplehorn Insect Collection. Taking photos of dry museum insects specimens, especially butterflies(!), demands knowledge of the equipment and software, and also experience handling the delicate specimens.

Photo Gallery