The photographer was pulled into the world of butterflies when he befriended a North Dakota college professor who was an expert on the bugs.
“I’ve had a lifelong interest in bugs and critters that’s carried all the way to my adult life,” Reynolds said.
But the award-winning photographer – who’s had his photos appear in publications of the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservatory, magazines such as “Discover” and “Outdoor Photographer” and various books – said butterflies became his forte.
When Reynolds’ professor friend began a book on butterflies, Reynolds accompanied him to the fields to take pictures.
The pair visited numerous butterfly habitats and hotspots, and Reynolds was hooked.
But a few years later, when the pair returned to the same hotspots as they began work on the second edition of the book, they were dismayed to see that some of them were no longer home to the beautiful creatures.
“Every plant in sight and all the butterflies had disappeared,” he said.
Reynolds thinks this came about as a result of poor management of the public land, as well as the fact that cows had been allowed to graze in those specific fields.
Whereas butterflies used to be able to just “fly over the next hill” to find another field when their habitats were taken over previously, that has become harder nowadays, he said.
“Now over the next field is a Walmart.”
When he moved to central Oklahoma in 2005, Reynolds decided to start an organization dedicated to improving public awareness about the conservation of butterflies and their habitats, as well as enhancing people’s enjoyment of the creatures through educational programs and photographs.
It is as founder of this organization – The Butterflies of the World Foundation – that Reynolds will speak to attendees at an event at the Tulsa Garden Center on Thursday.
“Butterflies are beautiful,” Reynolds said. “I’ve never met anyone who dislikes them.”
Reynolds will share his experience with butterflies in his presentation, titled “Butterflies…Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.” At the end of the presentation, he gives people a short list of simple tasks to help them conserve butterfly habitats, as well as various other aspects of the environment.
Habitats are disappearing because of factors that have just become the reality of the times we live in, Reynolds said.
“It’s the same old story: the encroachment of humans, everything is expanding. It has an effect on everything, not just butterflies.”
But Reynolds says butterflies are a good way to get people interested in conservation.
“You hear the news [and] you see the websites about polar bears and gorillas being endangered,” Reynolds said. “But it’s hard to relate to something that’s on the other side of the earth.”
Reynolds tells people that this is happening in their own backyards because no matter where people live, he knows they’ve seen butterflies.
Reynolds’ call to action includes general items such as recycling, adjusting your thermostat by a couple of degrees in the winter and summer and walking to the grocery store on the corner, instead of taking your car.
Some of his more direct action items include planting butterfly nectar sources and larval food plants in your garden.
Reynolds’ presentation, from 7 to 8:45 p.m., is one of two butterfly events Thursday at the Tulsa Garden Center, 2345 S. Peoria Ave. The other is called “Butterfly Gardens” and will be presented by Jim Thayer, a master gardener, from noon to 1 p.m. as a brown-bag lunch lecture on how to attract butterflies to your backyard.