Butterflies of Virginia
County Distribution

 Introduction by: Steve McCurdy

Harry Pavulaan- Butterfly Society member and world-renowned lepidopterist who lives in Leesburg, VA - has produced an incredible checklist broken down by Virginia city and county of butterfly observations that have been reported to numerous divergent sources. Harry’s name pops up in old archival copies of our Bulletin from time to time but more importantly his name pops up frequently as you read scientific journal articles about various lepidoptera. This checklist is so thorough that it has been broken into two parts, the full Checklist and Guide Notes. Harry has also produced a “How I produced this checklist” description (paraphrased here) and included in its entirety below.


The first edition of ‘Butterflies of Virginia’ (dated January 1, 2020) is now available for download below. It is formatted to be printed as individual pages and can be stapled for convenient use. This is the product of a half-year of research to accurately assess our current knowledge of butterfly distributions in Virginia. The goal of the checklist is to maintain an accurate record of butterfly records by county or independent city. The status of individual butterfly records is shown as either “verified” (documented) or “unverified” (undocumented). As coordinator, I maintain a working database, which identifies the sources of each record, but not details of the data.

Many published and online resources were investigated for this first edition. Sources were: Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA), eButterfly, iNaturalist, NABA Sightings, Bug Guide, Facebook groups, Paul Opler’s Eastern Butterfly Atlas project, Season Summary of the Lepidopterists’ Society, quarterly summaries of the Southern Lepidopterists’ News, NABA 4th of July Count reports, and published literature records. To meet my personal goal of a Jan. 1 release, I have not yet reviewed many years of sight reports in the valeps@yahoo.com discussion group and several hundred pages of personal correspondence. These additional sources have yet to be reviewed for additional records to add to the next edition and requiring several more months of review. Records entered into the present checklist were not accepted verbatim from the above sources, but were scrutinized and analyzed for accuracy, corroboration and method of documentation. Many misidentifications were found in all sources, requiring a significant amount of feedback on my part to correct the record (unfortunately, not all of these resources have the means for users to suggest corrections).

It is important to keep in mind that there have been a great many changes in butterfly scientific (Latin) names in recent years, most due to exhaustive research by experts in particular butterfly groups, and most supported by mtDNA research. Some of these name changes may be confusing, even to the distress of those who have favorite groups and have used the same scientific name for decades. But one must remember that scientific names have gone through innumerable changes over the past two centuries. In most cases, we had it wrong all along and recent genetic studies have revealed the true relationships of butterflies. A “Notes on the names applied in this list” will explain many changes and comments on pending research. There are a number of species “complexes” such as the Little Wood Satyr which consist of two or more cryptic species but research is pending. At least most common names remain unchanged, despite scientific name changes.

Harry Pavulaan

Butterflies of Virginia Checklist

Butterflies of Virginia Checklist (Notes)

How I produced this checklist (Harry Pavulaan)


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