- Associated Press - Sunday, May 4, 2014

BARLING, Ark. (AP) - With a camera close at hand, retired scientist and self-professed “bug nut” Clifford Ivy spends hours each day scouring the landscape for his latest passion - butterflies.

“It takes a lot of patience,” the 72-year-old from Barling told the Times Record (http://bit.ly/1n2DYYg). “They’re not very cooperative. You’ve got to be ready because by the time you get ready, they’re gone.”

A graduate of Bentonville High School, Ivy later earned degrees in poultry science and poultry nutrition and a doctorate in biochemistry and animal science from Cornell University. He spent 26 years working for global consumer goods juggernaut Procter & Gamble as a toxicologist, then later as a principal scientist in Cincinnati before returning to Arkansas.

Following retirement in 1997, Ivy took up water color and acrylic wildlife painting and even tried his luck as an FLW angler before his interest turned in 2012 to lepidoptery, the study of moths and butterflies.

“It’s mainly butterflies, but I do get moths,” he said. “There are quite a few out there. As a matter of fact, there was one out there today called the mournful thyris, this little black and white, beautiful moth. It gets out there and just acts like it’s a butterfly.”

His passion for the winged insects began simply by trying to identify an orange and black butterfly that made its way into his backyard.

“I didn’t recognize it, so I went out there and took a picture of it,” he said. “I sent it to Butterflies of America, which is an online group. They came back and said it’s a Diana Fritillary, the state butterfly of Arkansas. I felt like a real dummy. So that got me interested then.”

From there, Ivy’s hunt began with a camera in hand. He began capturing butterflies in photos, some award-winning, throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma. He also awaits the arrival of bugs to his own backyard, which is arranged with flowers that attract butterflies of all sorts.

“I just got addicted to it, my butterfly quest,” he said. “I think the first year I saw 85 different species just in my yard. It’s mind boggling when you open your eyes.”

Ivy’s hunt for butterflies led to what he calls another “bug project” to verify the existence of a specific metallic boring beetle in Arkansas.

“I discovered the beetle last year,” he said. “It only has a Latin name - Agrilus muticus. This thing was on a little flower called wine-cup down at the Cherokee nature preserve north of Charleston. I sent (a photograph) in, and a couple of professors said that’s what it is and that they didn’t even have a record of it being in Arkansas.”

Ivy secured a state permit to track down the beetle in May and to collect specimens that will be sent to universities for verification.

“They can add it to their collections, and hopefully, I’ll get confirmation on what it is,” he said. “It’s here. I have no doubt. You’ve got to have somebody sight these things and record them. Otherwise you have no record of them.”

Ivy is a regular on bug-identification websites and has a brother-in-law involved in odonata, the study of dragonflies and damselflies.

“He became a bug nut, and I’m a bug nut, so occasionally we’ll make a trip together,” Ivy said.

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