BOOK REVIEW: The Butterflies of Massachusetts by Sharon Stichter

Being a resident of Rhode Island, I have always wanted a field guide just on the butterflies indigenous to the littlest state in the union. As of this writing no such book exists so I have to be happy with more generalized field guides such as “Butterflies of the East Coast” by Rick Cech and Guy Tudor (reviewed HERE) or “A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America” by Jeffrey Glassberg (reviewed HERE). Just recently I became aware of a book called “The Butterflies of Massachusetts,” by Sharon Stichter. Since Massachusetts is one of Rhode Island’s neighboring states, I figured this would be a pretty good book to have as many of the species between the two states should overlap.


When the book arrived I was immediately happy. Like Cech and Tudor’s book, this edition it too large to bring into the field with you and to be honest, this book is not a field guide at all. AT 488 pages this book is loaded with all of the information that pocket field guides could only dream of including.

Color photos are included for all species and to be honest, this is the one drawback of this book. The photos, though clear, could make quick identification difficult. It would’ve been nice to have had pictures of the caterpillars as well. With that being said, keep in mind that this book is more about the natural history and current state of these species than just identification.

Most species are given multiple pages devoted to them. Information covered includes history, host plants and habitat, relative abundance today, state distributions and locations, broods and flight time and outlook. Everything is based on extensive naturalist records, museum specimens and historical literature. Also discussed are estimates of historical changes since the 19th century and up to date conservation assessments and recommendations.

This is a well-researched and highly recommended scientific study of the lepidoptera of Massachusetts and yet you do not need to be a scientist to enjoy and learn from this amazing book! It is pricey but well worth it when you think of the information covered. If you live in the New England area and like butterflies, this book will be a welcome addition to your butterfly library!

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