Tucker J. Cooley

Joined: Jan 26, 2021 Last Active: May 21, 2024 iNaturalist

My name is Tucker Cooley. I’m a sixteen year-old entomologist and wildlife photographer currently situated in Morgantown, WV, with a consuming passion for butterflies, moths, and their caterpillars. I recently had the great privilege of publishing a comprehensive field guide to the slug moths and caterpillars (Limacodidae), my main group of interest, in West Virginia through the U.S. Forest Service. You may view it here if interested: https://www.fs.usda.gov/foresthealth/technology/pdfs/FHAAST-2019-06-Field-Guide-Slug-Moths-WV.pdf.

This family has been a highly rewarding and enjoyable one to work with: named for their slug-like locomotion, slug caterpillars occur in nearly every imaginable color (two species in West Virginia have nearly every color of the rainbow on them at the same time!) and a host of shapes and forms throughout their known range. There are over 1,600 species worldwide, roughly 20 of which exist in West Virginia and/or surrounding states. I’ve ID’ed slug moths throughout the US, Canada, and Europe (starting to move into Mexico. Central America, and Australia as of last fall) on iNat since 2021 and now have over 10,000 total identifications for the family. In addition, I have appeared in several articles, including a story in Wonderful West Virginia, one of West Virginia’s most highly rated magazines. I’m also an avid wildlife photographer (mainly macro with an emphasis on WV butterflies) with accounts on Instagram and Twitter. I recently had the privilege of rearing the caterpillars of the double-striped scoparia moth (Scoparia biplagialis – not a limacodid), whose larva has never before been described by anyone—a completely original scientific contribution! I hope to publish some of my findings in the Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society in the coming months.

I have been tremendously blessed to have had so many opportunities arise during my few short years as a scientist; however, I don’t believe my entomological interests would have ever gone very far (at least not into the form of articles, a field guide, or intense scientific research) if it had not been for iNaturalist. I was introduced to iNat at the time my passion for butterflies and moths was just beginning to develop—from the very start, the ability to easily find photos of species around the globe, communicate with experts, and record personal observations so efficiently on the site amazed me… And that amazement has only grown over the past several years. I can definitely say that our slug moth publication would have never come into fruition without iNat—to have had the ability to quickly access SO much data and view hundreds of images for each species sped up the writing process considerably and eliminated the need to look at museum specimens in many cases.

If you could use some help with any North American butterfly/moth-related observations, please feel free to tag me! I cannot guarantee an accurate species identification 100% of the time (I am not an expert) but will certainly do my best to point you in the right direction or tag someone else who can make that species ID.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." - Job 12:7-10

Email: mothbustertjc@hotmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tuckerjcooley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tucker_cooley

Field Guide: https://www.fs.usda.gov/foresthealth/technology/pdfs/FHAAST-2019-06-Field-Guide-Slug-Moths-WV.pdf

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