Friday, June 14, 2013

A Mystery to the Small World

If you remember a post from a couple days ago ("What a small world") I told you about J W Tilden, an expert in butterflies, especially California butterflies.  Anyhow, J W Tilden still intriques me.  I assumed he had passed away, but then I thought, well, maybe not.  After all Aunt Edna is still going at 98 (her 99th birthday is on the 30th of this month!)  So, I decided to see if there was an obituary for him.  Darn it, there was, from 1988.  The first search I did came up with was that Mr. Tilden was editor of a newsletter for a Society for butterfly experts.  I found out that these collectors trade specimens like stamp collectors all over the world.  I guess I had never thought of that.  And they report on any variations of specimens they have found.   Well, then I came across this little mystery!

It is kind of small and for those that don't like to wear their reading glasses because it makes them look "old"....  The letter is from a Director of a laboratory in Mexico.  Basically it says that these butterflies have been turning up with "man-made" markings on their wings, a white paint on the ribs of the wings.  These have been sighted and several caught in 5 different states in Mexico.  The Director wants to know if any group in the USA are marking butterflies, he knows no groups in Mexico are and these butterflies are coming from the USA on the wind currents.  He thinks they may be coming in from some Southern US state.  They were all painted the same way so it is assumed it was done by the same person.  This letter was printed to find out if anyone knew the answer to the mystery.

Sorry, I don't know the end of the mystery!  Did they ever figure it out, did they catch the sneaky butterfly painter!  Did they find out why the butterflies were painted?

But I did find Mr. Tilden's obituary:
It went on for many pages and the friend wrote many of their adventures together that were very interesting. 
So, I guess I can put him to rest now.  His collections went to the Cal Berkely Academy of Sciences.  So now I am one of many volunteers inputting his very many specimens into a data base.

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