Oklahoma Butterfly & Moth County Records & Species Distribution

John Nelson, Professor Emeritus of Biology at ORU, has been working on the distribution of the butterflies & moths of Oklahoma for over 35 years, through both his own surveys and tracking others’ records. These county checklists are the results of that work for which we are greatly indebted to John. Records were compiled into the county checklist tables by John Fisher.

As Oklahoma Coordinator for the Lepidopterists Society, Dr. Nelson submits new & other significant records to the Society for inclusion in their annual Season Summary report & database. These records & those from other states are used to update the range maps on the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center site when funding is available.

Why Should I Report County Records?

Since many species only fly for a few weeks each year, a species may not known from a particular county simply because no one was at the right place & time to see it. For example, the ‘Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak, Callophrys gryneus gryneus, was first documented in Osage County in June, 2002 and Tulsa, Pawnee, Creek, & Washington Counties in April, 2004. Does this mean the ‘Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak is a recent immigrant into these counties? Maybe, maybe not. It does mean no one has seen, documented, and reported the ‘Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak from these Counties before. Since Eastern Red-cedar, the host plant of the Juniper Hairstreak is very common in these counties the hairstreak has probably been there all along but we just didn’t know it.

County distribution records like these and the data behind them are the basis for the range maps found on-line & in field guides. The more complete our information is, the more accurate those maps will be. Many of these maps in our field guides are based on interpolated data from only a few widely spaced records. By reporting where a species is or is not found we can increase the accuracy of these maps. These data also serve to help determine what species need protection due to their rarity or vulnerability.

If you find a new or significant record, please report your find with a photo or specimen and the usual who, what, when, & where information to John Nelson at jnelson@oru.edu or to:

John Nelson
ORU Biology Department
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa OK 74171

Useful butterfly & moth links

Butterflies and Moths of North America: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org
Lepidopterists’ Society: http://www.lepsoc.org
North American Butterfly Association: http://www.naba.org
Moth Photographers Group: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/MainMenu.shtml
Tulsa Audubon Society Butterfly Pages: http://www.tulsaaudubon.org/butterflies
Oklahoma Butterfly Counts: http://www.tulsaaudubon.org/butterflycounts.htm
Oklahoma Species Field Survey Form: http://www.oknaturalheritage.ou.edu/okspec2.pdf