If you are a regular reader of my blogs then you know that I absolutely love books on insects and arachnids, especially when it comes to butterflies and moths. Forty-five years ago began my interest in Lepidoptera and the passion has lasted until now. I started out as a collector and now any new collecting I do is in the form of photos. Any work with actual specimens is in conservation and raising these beautiful creatures.
With the current state of the planet, between global warming and habitat destruction, these fragile insects are finding it harder and harder to survive. It is more important now, more than ever before, to make efforts to preserve these very important animals and believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be difficult! All it takes is reserving a space in your yard to dedicate to nectar sources and caterpillar foodplants. The old adage that “if you build it, they will come” holds true when it comes to butterflies.
The subject of this review, “Raising Butterflies in the Garden” by Brenda Dziedzic, is an indispensable reference book that should be in every naturalists’ library. The author, whose yard in a 60 x 120 foot city lot, proved that it can be done with a combination of potted plants and in the ground gardens. She also takes advantage of native plants, which are more effective at attracting local butterflies. Though many plants sold at places like Home Depot and Lowes may say they are good for butterflies, you will get the best results with natives.
In this fantastic book we get a brief introduction to the author, who has been successful at raising over 5,000 butterflies between 2002 and 2019 and is very active in many butterfly and plant organizations. She then gives a basic but easy to understand and execute tutorial on raising butterflies. Then she gets into the real meat of the book; the species themselves.
She concentrates on 40 of the most widely seen butterflies and moths with the widest ranges. By doing this, it gives the book a much wider appeal. Though she lives in Michigan, what she presents is valid in most places. Each species features the following information: common name, scientific name (with pronunciation guide), range map, identification, host/larval foodplants, life cycle and adult food. In addition to the narrative, each entry is loaded with pictures showing the adult butterflies, every aspect of the life cycle (in many cases showing every instar of the caterpillar) and selective images of both the larval foodplants and adult food.
The pictures in this book are phenomenal and it is what sets this book apart from most of the other books of its type out there. They are all in full color and are crystal clear. It is so nice to see the eggs of these butterflies and moths in such detail and I have always believed that the ultimate field guide should have pictures of every stage of the caterpillars growth, especially since in many species they differ so much from instar to instar.
I honestly feel that Brenda Dziedzic has now set the bar on how books on butterflies and moths should be presented. Though the text may be minimal, what is captured in the photos makes this a reference work that amateurs and professionals can both use, over and over again. This is a good size book, clocking in at 334 pages and is the perfect size to have with you out in the garden as you try to identify your visitors or to bring with you to the local nursery.
If you would like to get your own copy, just click on the image below. The quality of this book is exceptional with a strong binding and glossy pages throughout. It is well worth the money and this is one book that you will use time and time again.