Nautilus

Butterfly Wonk Robert Pyle Pens His First Novel 44 Years in the Making

Ecologist Robert Michael Pyle’s imaginative treatment of the nonhuman world—he includes a butterfly and a mountain among his cast of characters—is both a surprise and perhaps a natural result of his artistic development.Counterpoint Press

The acclaimed author, naturalist, and ecologist Robert Michael Pyle has been investigating the butterfly for about 60 years. In that time his prolific output has included several butterfly field guides, chronicles of his adventures in the great outdoors (Where Bigfoot Walks, Thunder Tree, and Mariposa Road among them), and the magnum opus Nabokov’s Butterflies, a collection of the novelist’s butterfly writings. Pyle has also made seminal contributions to butterfly research, including his establishment of the Western Monarch’s migration pathway across the U.S. and into Mexico. Forty-seven years ago, he foresaw the acceleration of insect extinctions and founded the Xerces Society, devoted to invertebrate conservation.

This year marked a, nearly half a century in the making. For those of us devoted to his nonfiction, Pyle’s imaginative treatment of the nonhuman world—he includes a butterfly and a mountain among his cast of characters—is both a surprise and perhaps a natural result of his artistic development. Like Nabokov, Pyle has consistently straddled the worlds of science and the imagination.

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