What can I say? I love Texas! I am a Rhode Island native and in 2017 and 2018 I visited Austin and all of the night life it had to offer. During the day my girlfriend and I would go hiking, checking under rocks and logs for scorpions and tarantulas. In addition, we were always on the lookout for the local butterflies, hoping to see something we wouldn’t normally see in New England. One of my favorite parts of travelling is experiencing insects and arachnids that I’m not accustomed to.
There are new books on butterflies coming out all the time and I usually find out about them accidentally, usually by them showing up as a recommendation on Amazon based on my search history. When the book “Butterflies of North America” came up I was really unsure how it was going to be. The feedback on Amazon was decent but as many people know, you cannot always rely on these reviews. Thankfully the reviews ended up being based in fact!
If you are a regular reader on here then you know that I love field guides. There are so many good ones out there that you just don’t know which one(s) to get. I have reviewed some of the better ones but to be honest, as good as they all are, none of them are perfect. Each field guide brings something pertinent to the table but they also miss the mark in other areas. I actually wish that someone would take the best elements of all of these guides and make one perfect guide.
Some guides try to be over ambitious, covering either the whole United States or just the east or west coast. These are all fine and good but the problem is, the more ambitious they are, the more likely they are to keep out important information because they want to minimize the overall size of the guide. Field guides are just that, guides meant to be used in the field. If they weigh ten pounds it makes it difficult to bring the book with you.
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.
Some classics just never go out of style. Such is the case for the book “Butterflies and Moths: A Guide to the More Common American Species” by Robert T. Mitchell and Herbert S. Zim. Most field guides eventually go out of print and become unavailable over time as their information becomes outdated and new guides are produced. To my knowledge, this book has been in continuous print since it originally came out in 1964.
The original library hardcover version of this classic book!
Welcome to part two of my caterpillar food plant series (the first of which was on Saturniidae moth food plants seen HERE). For this entry I am focusing on the five species of Swallowtail butterflies (family Papilionidae) from New England. This list does not include strays; only species that can be found in this area normally. The Papilionidae, numbering over 700 species worldwide, are among our largest and most spectacular of butterflies!
EASTERN BLACK SWALLOWTAIL – Papilio polyxenes asterius
I am a huge fan of field guides and thankfully most of them out there are pretty good. In my last book review (seen HERE) I discussed my favorite of the guides, though it is one that is so large it is impractical to bring into the field with you. Thankfully, this one is much smaller, very user friendly and is perfect to have with you in the field. I must also say that I am quickly becoming a huge fan of Jeffrey Glassberg, who wrote this and many of the best guides available today.