"The Sulfur Butterflies"
by Robert Silberglied and Chip Taylor, 1971. 16mm film.
Music by Kristina Dutton & Lisa Schonberg.
Original footage held at the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Digitization sponsored by Dr. Arnaud Martin (The George Washington University, Washington DC)
Rearing Anartia and Sulfur Butterflies are 8-16mm films documenting the work of lepidopterist Bob Silberglied in the seventies. Rearing Anartia features Silberglied and entomologist Annette Aiello's field research at the Barro Colorado Island field station in Panama, as they were investigating the factors involved in maintaining two species distinct. Sulfur Butterflies features Silberglied and Taylor conducting research in southwest Arizona, in alfalfa fields that condensed incredible densities of butterflies at that time and allowed them to study in depth how females recognize the males of their own species based on ultraviolet coloration. Silberglied's untimely death in a plane crash left behind an undiscovered body of work, including these two research movies. Fifty years later, we digitized these two films held in the Smithsonian Institution's archives and added musical scores. These films are an early testimony of how creative scientists intended to communicate their passion for the study of nature to broad audiences.