Thomas J Allen - Butterfly and Wildlife Expert

    Thomas J Allen
  November 21, 1940 -
    August 9, 2010
Biography Butterflies Events Testimonials
  Stone Sculptures
  Wood Carvings

  Artist's Statement

  Related Links
Gopher TortoiseClick here to read about Tom's tenure at the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (article will open in a separate window).

August, 2008: I just wanted to share with you the fact that some great friends of mine (Bruce and Elinor Evans of West Virginia) recently gave me a copy of your book Butterflies of West Virginia and Their Caterpillars. Although I live in Wisconsin, I have enjoyed reading the information on butterflies in general, how to plant for them and how to raise them. For the last several summers I have raised monarch caterpillars on my kitchen table. Last year I released about 75 monarch butterflies. What a thrill! This year I am up to about 50 so far. That whole process is so amazing to me. Thanks for writing such an informative book.  -  Liz Roy, butterfly enthusiast, Fond du Lac, WI
May, 2008: Shadow Wood Country Club recently added a new butterfly garden as part of our Audubon Outreach and Education Program. We enlisted the aid of a group of fifth graders from Spring Creek Elementary to plant it. Mr. Allen helped us with plant selection, placement and planting. We also asked him to give an educational presentation to the kids. He was wonderful!!!!

The way that he interacted with the kids turned a springtime field trip into a truly educational experience. We are planning to use Mr. Allen in the near future to consult on an established garden for our membership and would highly recommend him to anyone looking for guidance on planting a native garden. We also hope to have him return for another field trip next year.

Thank you,  -  Eric Ruha, Director of Golf Course Operations, Shadow Wood Country Club
May, 2008: The Tom Allen I know

West Virginiaís loss was Lee County Floridaís gain when Tom Allen moved here in 2003. He hit the ground running and could not wait to know which plants attracted butterflies and wildlife for his empty double lot in Cape Coral. I was in Tennessee when he arrived and received an e-mail from John Sibley of All Native Nursery telling me that he had given Tom my name as a contact since I take care of the butterfly garden at the Lee County Extension Office. We e-mailed over the summer and I could not wait to meet this very knowledgeable man. I ordered his book The Butterflies of West Virginia and Their Caterpillars. He joined the Coccoloba Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society to learn more about the plants of our area, and jumped right in to helping with the chapter's fall plant sale. Tom helped with a butterfly count that we were doing in Lee County during that time and was a great asset as he always knew how to identify butterflies, skippers and moths from the pictures or descriptions we received. He counted butterflies in his yard and answered endless questions for all of us and taught us so much. Through the Coccoloba Chapter he met Cathy Loyolla, a biologist for the city of Cape Coral, and she introduced him to a new passion, the beloved burrowing owls, and off he went to learn about, follow and document something they didnít have in West Virginia!

Tom is a ďgo toĒ guy. If you need a door prize, he will whip you up an outstanding piece of original art. If you need a speaker he is right there, ready and able to present a first-class program. He has spoken at our Southwest Florida Butterfly Conference twice and will do so again in November, 2008. What a bonus it is to have our own Lee County Expert in Tom Allen. He has done book signings with his Caterpillars in the Field and Garden, and has donated books for sale. He is always available to help and advise teachers, students or any other group. If you need plants, he will bring you some from his yard. Need butterflies for a special event? Tom will capture them in his yard (and return them later) to fill the screen enclosure for the pleasure of people attending the event. Need someone to fill in for you when you canít make a commitment? Call Tom.

I am proud to know this man of incredible energy and call him my friend. I would recommend him for anything you have in mind.

  -  Gayle Edwards, Master Gardener
May, 2008: Over the past year I have had the pleasure and honor to work with Tom Allen. His knowledge of butterflies, native plants, burrowing owls, and gopher tortoises has helped me tremendously as president of the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife ( He is passionate in his pursuit to educate those around him and share his knowledge and experiences of the last 35 years as a biologist. Through his painting, photography, stone sculpture and wood carvings he captures what he has witnessed first hand in nature. Tom is truly a gifted and talented person!  -  Pascha Donaldson, Pres. Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife
March, 2008: Lexington Middle School started a butterfly garden in the fall of 2007. We compiled research about Southwest Florida butterflies and native plants but were struggling with all the information available. Tom Allen came to our school and assisted with placing the plants that were already purchased, suggested what nectar and host plants that would attract Florida butterflies, and shared best practices for maintaining the garden.

Monarchs, buckeyes, white peacocks, and sulfur butterflies visited the garden within weeks of planting. Tomís experience and advice were invaluable to the success of our butterfly garden. The students are excited and learning about the native host and nectar plants and the Florida butterflies that visit the garden.  -  Cheryl Darbyshire, Teacher