Centennial Museum gecko logo

Desert Diary



This page was designed with CSS, and looks best in a CSS-aware browser--which, unfortunately, yours is not. However, the document should still be readable, though not presented in the most sophisticated manner.

Beauty is said to be only skin deep. Nevertheless, our brains work in such a way that we tend to equate beauty with worth. This is as true when we look at the natural world as when we consider people. The early natural historians were attracted especially to flashy groups such as butterflies and seashells. As a result, museum and private collections of these animals are huge, but since much of the early collecting was guided by esthetics rather than scientific zeal, information tends to be scanty for many kinds and many geographic areas. Few people really realize how common and diverse these groups are.

Admittedly, the Chihuahuan Desert doesn't have much in the way of modern seashells, but it is well supplied with butterflies. A recent survey of the literature covering a relatively small region around El Paso and Juarez turned up 118 reasonably expectable kinds of butterflies, while another 37 species have been recorded at least once. Look around at them—maybe beauty doesn't equate with worth, but it surely has some value in of itself. pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.


butterfly on Yellow Bells

A butterfly resting on a Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans) plant in the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. Photograph by A.H. Harris.



Web Resources

El Paso/Juárez Regional Checklist.