About Jim Durbin and the Site

I am retired from Rockwell Collins (April 2006). I was employed there for 40 years. I led a group at the airport that designs, documents and installs avionics equipment into airplanes. I have been involved with Cedar Rapids Audubon since 1989. I have served as president for several years and also on the board in other positions. I am currently the membership chairman and treasurer. I also do volunteer work with the Linn County Conservation department doing bird classes and studies of species in some of the parks. I have also been involved with the DNR doing Henslow's Sparrow studies in 2004/5/6 at Pleasant Creek Lake State Recreation Area. I continue to monitor the Henslow's population.

Since 1989 I have increased my photography activity a tremendous amount, primarily with flowers, birds, butterflies, moths and dragonflies. Since 2002 I have been black lighting for moths and other insects. I also do a lot of landscaping in my backyard including ponds.

In 2007 I created a website www.insectsofiowa.com that has pictures and collection data of moths, butterflies, and www.birdsofiowa.com that has birds, fungi, mammals and amphibians. In 2014 a friend of mine created the site (insectsofiowa.org) that is a database site that combines the previous two sites. My goal is to document the species that are found in Iowa. You can find additional information on the species elsewhere but hopefully the site will help you determine what species you have.

The data and pictures include information from my collections and several others in Iowa. It also includes data from collections at Drake and Luther Colleges. I also check Bugguide and BAMONA and download and add that data to the website. Pictures have the owner's name in the caption unless they are mine. I have tried to make sure the name of the person who collected the specimen is shown in the "Collected by" field. This only applies to the family and species pictures. Specimen photos should be assumed to be the collector's. For many of the species of moths, I have included a photo for that species that was taken by Jim Vargo. Jim has a lot of photos on Moth Photographer's Group and gave me permission to use his photos. I use his photos as a check to make sure of species identification.

The order of the moths on the website is per Hodges numbers. ( I decided to keep the Hodges order as many of us are used to this and have not adjusted to the new numbers by Pohl.) The taxonomy is per the Annotated taxonomic checklist of the Lepidoptera of North America, North of Mexico by Gregory R. Pohl, Bob Patterson, and Jonathan P. Pelham, dated May 2016. This is an update to the publication by Ron Hodges in 1989. Ron Hodges assigned a number to all the known Lepidoptera species (North of Mexico, approx 11000) at the time. With all the changes that have taken place, Greg and others took on the task of making the update. As part of the update, it was decided to assign a 2 digit number to all the superfamilies and a 4 digit number to the species contained in the families. The new publication shows the new number and also shows the Hodges number. This helps to find and track changes to the taxonomy changes that have occurred. I am in the process of updating the website to also show the new P3 numbers generated by Greg Pohl. Taxonomy for the moths is based on an Excel file that I get from Moth Photographer's Group website that is kept up with taxonomy updates. The butterflies taxonomy is based on the website www.butterfliesofameica.com which is the same site that Bugguide references.

If the location for the sighting is to a county level, I have tried to place the GPS coordinates in the center of the county. Many of these are from old records that showed only county or are from people that we were not able to contact or unable to figure out the location.

I have made every effort to insure accurate identification of all species, but I am sure there are a few that I have mis-identified since I started this project in 2000. If you find errors, please contact me so I can fix problems.

While the site is primarily for Iowa insects, I have included records for specimens that I have collected while on trips to other states. When you click on a species, you will see a map of Iowa and also one for the surrounding states in the Midwest and specimens collected will show up. Specimens from other states will show in the list of records. The graphs showing the timing of collecting/documenting and show when the dates for the specimen records occur during the months of the year. As mentioned above there will be records for some species in January. There will also be some records for silk moths that show up during the winter and these will show when cocoons were found. This was a way to document that the silk moths occur in counties where we have not collected by black lighting.

In recent years I have begun taking more photographs and collecting fewer specimens. I found that the photographs serve as documentation for the specimen and I do not have to collect common species to document. I try to take pictures of the moths that show up on the sheet, label the pictures with the date and location where taken, run the pictures through the identification program and then upload the specimens to the database. With the number of specimens that I document in the summer, this allows me to kind of keep up and finish in the fall when I quit collecting. Using this method, I might document 300 specimens a night but only collect 10 specimens. This method gives a better idea of what is being seen. Also when looking at the records, note the count number. In some cases a species may show up in large numbers and adding a record for each individual does not seem necessary as long as a total count is available.

In 2018 the identification program was added and is updated about every 6 months as I acquire more photographs. It is intended to be a tool to help people identify photographs of insects or other species. The program is trained with the photographs of all the species on the website. Right now there are over 5000 species on the site. The last training added all the insects in several orders that have been seen in Iowa and the surrounding states. The program is now trained for 10000+ species. The accuracy is dependant on the number of photos that the program uses to train. Some uncommon species only have a few photos and are harder to identify but will generally get you to at least a genus level. If you wonder why I include a lot of photos for some specimen records, I take a lot of pictures and the pictures are used to train the identification program.

The Butterfly Identification program covers the United States and Canada. Again it is intended to help with pictures you may take on trips to other states and allow you to make an identification of the butterflies you photograph.

In January 2022, I started to scan my slides that I took from the 1990s and early 2000s. The photos are attached to records of the general time and location as I did not keep very good records of when and where I took the slides. I do a much better job of documentation these days.

The information for the butterflies comes from Dennis Schlicht's Butterflies of Iowa book. Dennis and the University of Iowa Press gave me permission to use the data in the descriptions.

The Squirrel Frog on the page has nothing to do with Lepidoptera but is responsible for me meeting Don who put together the website and has helped me to display the data so it will be helpful for people. I discovered the frog in the battery case on my camper when we returned from a trip to Jerkyl Island in October 2012. While looking for a place for the frog, I met Don and we got to talking about websites that are database oriented. As they say, the rest is history.