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Lepidopterist

Study butterflies both in the lab and in the field.

What does a Lepidopterist do?

Butterfly nets were a large part of a Lepidopterist’s childhood – a Scientist who specializes in the study of butterflies and moths. In this job, you spend a lot of time in the laboratory, observing the anatomy of these fragile insects under a microscope. But you also spend time in the field, following and monitoring butterflies as they flit around. All your observations as a Lepidopterist go toward predicting the behavior of both individual insects and groups.

Your Lepidopterist career starts in the laboratory. Here, you observe different species under a microscope to see how they’re similar and different. Sure, they may all have the same number of legs and wings, but the lengths, shapes, and colors come in a seemingly endless variety. Each individual butterfly or moth you document is another piece in the puzzle of what all these marvelous creatures have in common.

Next, it’s out into the field to see your subjects up close. While you watch, they fly from flower to flower. By observing their behavior in the wild, you can learn how butterflies communicate with each other, how they find food, and what patterns they fly in. The actions of one group may be reflected in a similar species.

Your work is one part of the overall effort to understand the animals that populate our vast planet. Even the smallest butterfly plays a part in the ecosystem, and your research leads to discovering what that role is.