Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

August 25, 2011

The butterfly effect: For Howard Hoople, colorful insects tickle his fancy

For Howard Hoople, colorful insects tickle his fancy

Howard Hoople is a butterfly aficionado who is all business when he talks about his passion. What would you expect from a man with an MBA from Harvard University?

While butterfly watching and finances may seem an unusual pairing, Hoople says there are commonalities between the two. After working for years in the non-profit hospital finance sector where he "cared deeply about health care," he said, it's the butterfly's patterns and designs that he finds most appealing now.

"[Butterflies] are a work in progress and it's amazing...I'm still a student and I've got so much more to learn," said Hoople, who has been studying butterflies for about 13 years and is the North American Butterfly Association's vice president-East.

Catching butterflies as a kid is what started his lifelong fascination. He hoped to share it with his wife and two kids, now all grown up.

"My wife is supportive but gets restless on walks," he laughed. "My kids, forget it...no interest."

These days, his dog is his faithful companion on hikes. On his website, andoverbutterfly.net, underneath a terrific photograph he took of his dog and a butterfly he wrote "former bored hiker observes a black swallowtail."

Like any numbers guy, Hoople can rattle off as many butterfly stats as you want. For example, he said there are 15,000 to 20,000 types of butterflies; 700 types in the U.S.; 100 types in Massachusetts; and about 50 types in Andover.

"Andover is a tough place to find butterflies," he said.

But it's not impossible. Come March 15, Hoople probably will be rolling around the grass at the south side base of Ward Reservation, facing Boston, attempting to take a close up photograph of a butterfly.

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