I have always loved butterflies and frankly, there is a small one in flight tattooed on my right ankle. It serves as a pretty jewelry-like reminder of how special these 'flying flowers' are.
“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued is always beyond our grasp,
but if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
I have a few reference books on butterfly and caterpillar ID but when I was asked to review the book below on Butterflies, I was only too happy to do so.
As you can see by the cover, the author is Erin Gettler, a naturalist, writer, photographer and artist. A number of the photos in the book are her own.
There is an excellent 'Butterflies by Region' chart at the front of the book and thinking it would cover north America as I live in Ontario, Canada I was disappointed that the chart is for the US with a column for western provinces combined with Alaska.
Colour photos feature specific butterflies and an occasional caterpillar instar stage. What was missing was an open wing, as well as closed wing photo for each butterfly to make identification easier. A written 'how do I identify' section was helpful but in the field most people would want a quick referral to photos.
and a Viceroy. Similar but distinctive markings to tell them apart.
From my files - If you look carefully at the eyes on the bottom of the partially opened wing you'll see four eyes that tell me this is a Painted Lady.
In a closed wing shot you can see the two eyes that tell this is an American Lady.
In the book host (for eggs and caterpillars) plants and nectar suggestions are listed under the section 'how to attract them'. A good example from my garden is the host plant pearly everlasting which American Lady butterflies reliably lay eggs on every spring. Above you can see in the top left the webbing and caterpillar frass on the plant identifying an egg has hatched. In the centre is the last instar stage of the caterpillar before it forms a chrysalis (bottom left).
The 'where to find them' section describes the habitat preferred by each butterfly and for the American Lady sunny natural spaces like meadows and roadsides are recommended.
Under 'lifecycle', generations, general caterpillar info and migration is covered.
Overall the book is a fairly good guide but not for the experienced butterfly enthusiast. I feel the Latin name for each species could have been included as various regions call butterflies by different names which is true of flowers as well.
The book will be a great starter ID that I'll give my grandchildren and if they should want to become more involved, I have other books to recommend.
The opinions in this review are solely my own and I thank Cool Springs Press for the opportunity to share my thoughts.