Lifelong Lepidopterist

A story by E. Christopher Livesay from 2023

Chris Livesay with Satyr and Katahdin Arctic Butterflies, 2023

E. Christopher “Chris” Livesay became captivated by Butterflies as a child. His love of observing the natural world started with growing up in rural Brunswick, Maine, with a lot of opportunity to explore.

Anything that flies—Butterflies, Birds, or Insects, interests Chris Livesay. As a lifetime lepidopterist, or person who studies Butterflies, Livesay has personally caught and curated a massive collection of insects over the past 70 years. Between his professional duties as an attorney and serving on multiple non-profit boards including Maine Audubon and Maine Historical Society,

Livesay traveled throughout Maine and the world with his family, supporting budding lepidopterists, and collecting Butterflies and Moths along the way. Livesay is an avid hiker, saying, “When I go into the Maine woods, I’m looking for Butterflies.” His broad knowledge of ecosystems and the biodiversity of Butterfly habitats helps him choose the best areas for collecting.

Because of the vast differences in altitude, Livesay prefers collecting Butterflies in Peru, saying, “It’s the best place I’ve ever collected butterflies. And I’ve collected Butterflies in a lot of different places!” His Morpho sulkowskyi specimen collected in 1981 at about 8,000 feet in Peru is an iridescent blue Butterfly, uncommon in collections. With industrial destruction of rainforests, tropical Butterflies are at risk. Documenting Butterflies in collections will allow future research.

When the Portland Society of Natural History dissolved their collections in 1970, Livesay purchased the worldwide Butterfly and Moth collections, and has cared for them for over 50 years. Livesay digitized his collections, making them widely available through Bowdoin College to researchers all around the world.

Livesay's Butterflies on display in CODE RED: Climate, Justice & Natural History Collections, 2023

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