Butterfly Books

The Dangerous World of Butterflie
The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists
by Peter Laufer

They look so sweet, don't they, fluttering around the yard.... innocent, happy little lives nourished by nothing but sugar. Nectar, sparkling sunshine, young children laughing along behind them with harmless nets......

It's no secret that butterflies attract artists and lepidopterian lovers. But smugglers? Laufer's book takes a look at the sometimes seamy underside of butterfly life and adoration, complete with poachers and thieves, commercial breeders, pupal rape, international intrigue and high crime. He explores the mysteries of metamorphosis, conservation efforts, and the mythological appeal of butterflies to humans. As the book progresses, you sense Laufer's growing appreciation of our lovely lepidoptera and you know that he, like you, will never again look at a butterfly the same way.

An Obsession with Butterflies
Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect
by Sharman Apt Russell

Did you know that there was once an Englishwoman whose children declared her insane because of her obsession with butterflies? Did you know that some butterflies have "love dust" to arouse a mate? Russell looks at the human obsessions associated with butterflies, from religious and mythological, to obsessions held by butterflies themselves. Wings that hiss, the mystery of metamorphosis, the pursuit of a mate and food, the rigours of migration. It's all gloriously weird and fun. Russell's little book is an adventure in the obscure and the obsessive.

Nabokov's Blues
The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius
by Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates

Know primarily as a novelist (Lolita), Nabokov was also a passionate lepidopterist, attaining much respect in the entomology community for his research on butterflies and work in classification, particularly of the butterflies known as Blues. This book explores his work in South America and his rise and impact on the study of butterflies.

National Audobon Society Field Guide To Butterflies

What'a there to say? This book is a classic. It is beautifully photographed, well-organized, and provides a wealth of information on the description, similar species, life cycle, flight, habitat, and range of the butterflies of North America. Most descriptions include a brief entry about the butterfly's behavior and preferences as well as interesting little tid bits. This book stays out on my potting bench year-round.

Butterflies of North America
by Jeffrey Glassberg

This is another reference book that lives out on my potting bench. Glassberg is the President of the North American Butterfly Association and has published several books about butterflies and nature-watching in general. He travels extensively to observe, study, and photograph butterflies and is credited with all of the photos, text, and design of this book. Each species description includes a physical description, behavior and flight patterns, habitat and diet, garden suggestion to attract, information about abundance, and notes of interesting and helpful facts. The book opens with an introductory section on observing butterflies, butterfly biology, gardening to attract, conservation, and photographing butterflies. There is an index of plants at the end of the book. A nice reference book.

The Butterflies of West Viriginia and Their Caterpillars
by Thomas J. Allen

Mr. Allen works for the WV Division of Natural Resources and has coauthored a couple of other reference books but he shines with this book. In addition to the usual information on physical description, habitat, nectar sources, and range for butterflies commonly (and uncommonly) found in West Virginia, Mr Allen has written nice introductory chapters on butterfly environments, studying butterflies, mounting (pinning), and butterfly gardening. Very good information in these chapters. This book contains a lovely section of color plates, not just of butterflies but also of their caterpillars and pupae. Really nice. There is also a helpful glossary section. The more you explore this book, the more evident it becomes by the care and thoroughness he has taken that Mr. Allen, who raises and photographs butterflies, has a deep passion for our Lepdopterian friends. Because of the good reference information contained in this book, "The Butterflies of West Viriginia and Their Caterpillars" is a solid reference for anyone in the mid-Altantic area.

Eastern Butterflies
Peterson Field Guides- Paul Opler

It's a Peterson Field Guide. What more could you possibly need to know? Good intorductory chapters on life cycle, studying, photographing, gardening, conservation, and habitat. Plates include plants, caterpillars, chrysalids, and adults. The species account gives the usual comprehensive description of each butterfly but unlike the Audobon book (above), the range maps are included with the accounts instead of in a separate section in the back of the book. Handy. 

A Flight of Butterflies
by Kanzaka Sekka
This book depicts 25 full-color plates of butterflies by the japanese painter Kanzaka Sekka. These designs were completed in 1904 for a series of woddblock prints. Included with the book is a CD-Rom fo 216 images represening the full plates as well as individual depictions of butterfies from the woodblock prints. The images are royalty-free and maybe be used in your craft and design applications, up to a limit of four images per project or publication. Very unique and beautiful butterflies.