The Southwestern Research Station
So now, to formally introduce the lep course.
I spent a bit over a week at the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) in Portal, Arizona this August. The station is run by the American Museum of Natural History. I was participating in the Lepidoptera Course, studying moths and butterflies and caterpillars with some of the best researchers in the field. It was an amazing opportunity, and I learned so much!
This is one of the signs you’re greeted with when you arrive (after driving down the long bumpy desert road into the canyon).
Of course, as scientists, it was tough for us to actually relax during the course. Every spare moment was spent collecting or exploring or reading or pinning… you get the idea. The first couple days we actually didn’t have that much to do and I started getting anxious! Thankfully, things picked up and I became totally absorbed in learning about leps. I work best when I have a million things to do and not enough time to do it all.
This is a view of some of the buildings at the station – with a typical early afternoon sky in the background. You could almost guarantee rain by 2pm. That’s the wonder of the monsoon season in the southwest – plenty of rain and rumbling storm clouds. I love this location – nestled in the Chiricahua mountains with streams and lush vegetation, surrounded by desert scrub. I was here last year with my advisor just to explore and catch caterpillars, and I’m already looking forward to possibly going back next summer. Some of the species in my study genus live here, so that’s a good excuse!
Of course at this point my mind and photos and notes are a little jumbled, with a big splash of excitement to talk about the adventures we went on. I’ll write a bunch of posts about the trip, not necessarily in order or corresponding to specific days. So let’s see what happens!