Requiem for small creatures
Requiem for small creatures

With this project I hope to honor the lives and mark the passing of an often overlooked class of animals, Insecta.

Some scientists think we are witnessing a massive extinction of insects, and one long-term study estimated we have lost 40 percent of their biomass. I want to serve as a witness and documentarian of this sad state. Millions of insect species inhabit the world, but there are not enough entomologists or funding to record them all, or even to document the loss of entire species. But I can gather information from museums and other collections on insects that have disappeared from the planet in recent history, or that are critically endangered or suspected to be extinct, into a photographic record, which does not currently exist.

Some people wonder why we should care that the world has lost so many insect species when there are so many left. Others of us feel each loss diminishes the rest of life on earth. In spirit and in health, we all are connected.

I aim to emphasize the importance of biodiversity and the link to human life, and to raise awareness of actions we can take to promote insect survival. I am working on gaining permission to photograph collections throughout the world and seeking funding to carry out this ambitious project. I also plan to contribute my straight photographs to public databases such as the Encyclopedia of Life.

This image: Glaucopsyche xerces (Xerces blue butterfly, male)

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Glaucopsyche xerces
Glaucopsyche xerces

(Xerces blue butterfly, female)

The last Xerces blue butterfly died in the early 1940s. What it was like to be the last, to fly over the dunes near San Francisco looking for all the others? The extinction of the Xerces blue is attributed to human development. We killed all the lotus plants, the only food source for the larval Xerces. There are people who wonder why we should care that the world has lost all the tiny blue and brown butterflies that were the Xerces when there are so many other butterflies in the world. But others of us feel each loss diminishes the rest of life because we all are connected. And we wonder where all these losses will lead, and how much of the earth we can use up before one of us is looking around and wondering, “Where are all the others?”

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Megalagrion jugorum
Megalagrion jugorum

(Maui upland damselfly)

No one knows exactly when the last Maui upland damselfly died, but some of the few remaining specimens, collected in 1899, are kept at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Many damselflies in the Hawaiian Islands were killed off or are threatened by the introduction of non-native fish to control mosquitoes.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Polyphylla barbata
Polyphylla barbata

(Mount Hermon June beetle)

The Mount Hermon June beetle is listed as critically imperiled. The last group of beetles reside in the Zayante sand hills, an area in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. They are threatened by habitat loss due to sand mining and development. Most of their remaining habitat is privately owned.

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Speyeria callippe callippe
Speyeria callippe callippe

(Callippe silverspot butterfly)

The Callippe silverspot butterfly is listed as critically imperiled, with the last two communities living just south of San Francisco. Their demise has been brought about by human activity, and specifically habitat loss and introduced plants, in San Francisco, Berkeley and Alameda.

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Agrotis photophila
Agrotis photophila

(Light-loving noctuid moth)

Not much is known, or ever will be, about this extinct moth that lived on the island of Oahu. The last one was seen in 1900.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Cicindela latesignata obliviosa
Cicindela latesignata obliviosa

(Tiger beetle or Western beach tiger beetle)

Once living in California, the Western Beach tiger beetle is considered extinct. For many reasons, it’s difficult to determine the status of an insect, and many may be extinct or critically endangered without having the official designation. For one thing, insects are usually quite small and hard to see. Second, there aren’t enough entomologists or funding for proper studies. Species could exist and become extinct without humans ever knowing.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Drosophila lanaiensis
Drosophila lanaiensis

(Lanai pomace fly)

This small creature is extinct, although it once lived in Hawaii. When a plant or animal disappears from the earth, it’s impossible to know what other species are affected. The benefits and consequences of this little fly’s existence may never be known.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Lycaeides idas lotis
Lycaeides idas lotis

(Lotis blue butterflies, male and female)

Lotis blue butterlies are critically imperiled or extinct, although they once lived near Mendocino, California. They were last seen in 1994. According to the Xerces Society, the reasons for the demise of the Lotis blue are unknown, but possible causes are climate change (and the resulting death of the plants the butterflies required for sustenance) as well as habitat loss.

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Requiem for small creatures
Glaucopsyche xerces
Megalagrion jugorum
Polyphylla barbata
Speyeria callippe callippe
Agrotis photophila
Cicindela latesignata obliviosa
Drosophila lanaiensis
Lycaeides idas lotis
Requiem for small creatures

With this project I hope to honor the lives and mark the passing of an often overlooked class of animals, Insecta.

Some scientists think we are witnessing a massive extinction of insects, and one long-term study estimated we have lost 40 percent of their biomass. I want to serve as a witness and documentarian of this sad state. Millions of insect species inhabit the world, but there are not enough entomologists or funding to record them all, or even to document the loss of entire species. But I can gather information from museums and other collections on insects that have disappeared from the planet in recent history, or that are critically endangered or suspected to be extinct, into a photographic record, which does not currently exist.

Some people wonder why we should care that the world has lost so many insect species when there are so many left. Others of us feel each loss diminishes the rest of life on earth. In spirit and in health, we all are connected.

I aim to emphasize the importance of biodiversity and the link to human life, and to raise awareness of actions we can take to promote insect survival. I am working on gaining permission to photograph collections throughout the world and seeking funding to carry out this ambitious project. I also plan to contribute my straight photographs to public databases such as the Encyclopedia of Life.

This image: Glaucopsyche xerces (Xerces blue butterfly, male)

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Glaucopsyche xerces

(Xerces blue butterfly, female)

The last Xerces blue butterfly died in the early 1940s. What it was like to be the last, to fly over the dunes near San Francisco looking for all the others? The extinction of the Xerces blue is attributed to human development. We killed all the lotus plants, the only food source for the larval Xerces. There are people who wonder why we should care that the world has lost all the tiny blue and brown butterflies that were the Xerces when there are so many other butterflies in the world. But others of us feel each loss diminishes the rest of life because we all are connected. And we wonder where all these losses will lead, and how much of the earth we can use up before one of us is looking around and wondering, “Where are all the others?”

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Megalagrion jugorum

(Maui upland damselfly)

No one knows exactly when the last Maui upland damselfly died, but some of the few remaining specimens, collected in 1899, are kept at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Many damselflies in the Hawaiian Islands were killed off or are threatened by the introduction of non-native fish to control mosquitoes.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Polyphylla barbata

(Mount Hermon June beetle)

The Mount Hermon June beetle is listed as critically imperiled. The last group of beetles reside in the Zayante sand hills, an area in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. They are threatened by habitat loss due to sand mining and development. Most of their remaining habitat is privately owned.

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Speyeria callippe callippe

(Callippe silverspot butterfly)

The Callippe silverspot butterfly is listed as critically imperiled, with the last two communities living just south of San Francisco. Their demise has been brought about by human activity, and specifically habitat loss and introduced plants, in San Francisco, Berkeley and Alameda.

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

Agrotis photophila

(Light-loving noctuid moth)

Not much is known, or ever will be, about this extinct moth that lived on the island of Oahu. The last one was seen in 1900.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Cicindela latesignata obliviosa

(Tiger beetle or Western beach tiger beetle)

Once living in California, the Western Beach tiger beetle is considered extinct. For many reasons, it’s difficult to determine the status of an insect, and many may be extinct or critically endangered without having the official designation. For one thing, insects are usually quite small and hard to see. Second, there aren’t enough entomologists or funding for proper studies. Species could exist and become extinct without humans ever knowing.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Drosophila lanaiensis

(Lanai pomace fly)

This small creature is extinct, although it once lived in Hawaii. When a plant or animal disappears from the earth, it’s impossible to know what other species are affected. The benefits and consequences of this little fly’s existence may never be known.

Photographed at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu

Lycaeides idas lotis

(Lotis blue butterflies, male and female)

Lotis blue butterlies are critically imperiled or extinct, although they once lived near Mendocino, California. They were last seen in 1994. According to the Xerces Society, the reasons for the demise of the Lotis blue are unknown, but possible causes are climate change (and the resulting death of the plants the butterflies required for sustenance) as well as habitat loss.

Photographed at the Essig Museum, UC Berkeley

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