Northborough resident Stephen Moore named Butterfly Club president

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By Seth Stutman Community Reporter
Stephen Moore (right) and his wife, Barbara Volkle, are true nature lovers. PHOTO/SETHSTUTMAN

Northborough – Stephen Moore has taken a winding road to the presidency of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club (MBC), finding multiple passions along the way.

Before becoming a lepidopterist (a specialist in the study of butterfl ies and moths), Moore was interested in birds. In 1975, while fishing in Newburyport Harbor, he watched as a Ross's Gull found its way into the area – a rare occurrence as such gulls are native to Siberia. Since that miraculous occurrence, he began his search for all of the bird species in North America.

“We'se been to [among other places] Cape Horn and the Arctic Circle, looking for birds in those locations,” he said. Of the 725 species of birds in North America, Moore has spotted all but one, a rare gray-headed chickadee, native to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska.

In the early 2000s, when Moore “ran out” of birds, he took an interest in an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly that had landed in his backyard. With his wife, Barbara Volkle, Moore joined the MBC in 2001 and soon became the vice president, organizing trips around the state and country before being elected president in 2009. After his 2008 retirement from the K&L Gates law firm in Boston, Moore has dedicated more time to the butterfl y club.

Volunteers founded the Massachusetts Butterfly Club in 1990 when Moore was still searching for birds. When the North American Butterfly Association was established in 1992, the MBC was soon selected as a local chapter. Today, the 125-member MBC publishes a periodical, meets twice a year in Worcester and organizes more than 40 walks around the state and excursions throughout North America. This spring they will be hosting seminars on improving photography skills and a Boston University professor will discuss the ramifi- cations of global warming in the insect world.

The MBC supplies guest speakers for a number of garden and women's clubs, and preaches “insect awareness.” They also try to promote the creation of butterfly-friendly gardens that foster host and nectar plants that attract differing species of butterfly. They recommend that non-grass areas are mowed as little as possible, that mowers are kept at least 4 to 6 inches off the ground and that people leave the cuttings on the ground.

Because of poor mowing techniques and the destruction of habitats, butterflies are not as abundant as they once were.

“We have had a reduction in the normal habitat,” Moore said, “and butterflies need host plants and nectar.”

Moore's work as president and enthusiast is not finished yet. Of the 720 species of butterflies in North America, he has seen only 500. With the majority of butterflies emerging from their cocoons in April, butterfly season is near and Moore and his fellow lepidopterists could not be more excited.

“We'se just enjoying what we'se seeing,” he said.

For more information, visit the Massachusetts Butterfly Association at www.massbutterflies.org