Saturday, 14 April 2018

Butterfly Gardening - The North American Butterfly Association Guide, Princeton University Press

     Given the precarious state of insect pollinators these days any attempt by citizens to adapt their gardens for native insects is laudable and contributes in no small measure to a healthier and more appealing environment for all.
    Butterflies are without question the most visible and most appealing of the insects we can attract to our gardens, and they add beauty, interest and knowledge to the tiny pocket of land most of us have attached to our dwelling. How much more vivid and soul-satisfying is a riot of colour, both plant and butterfly, than the sterility of a green lawn, aptly described by some as a green desert? Native plants, flowers, shrubs and trees are well adapted to climatic conditions where they occur, and they have developed a symbiotic relationship with their insect pollinators over time. Lawns contribute little to environmental purity and in the process consume excessive amounts of water, need a good deal of attention and unfortunately still receive excessive chemical treatment.
     Jane Hurwitz has authored a fine book which will help readers to reevaluate the choices they make about their gardens, and perhaps for the first time, cause them to look at a garden as habitat rather than as mere decoration for humans.



     The chapters are organized as a "how to" instruction guide and the sections on butterfly basics are especially helpful to those creating butterfly habitat for the first time. 



      Doubtless many homeowners have seen butterflies on their property, other than ubiquitous Cabbage Whites and have wondered what species they are observing. There are myriad common butterflies that are, or can be attracted to a garden and putting a name to them is often a first step. Chapter 2 provides extensive coverage - and is followed immediately by chapter 3 dealing with Caterpillar Cuisine"" and  Chapter 4, "Butterfly Banquet." By the end of the first four chapters even the most raw novice already has a very good idea of what is involved in making a garden a suitable haven for butterflies.


     Great attention is paid to the different climate and vegetational zones throughout the continent; with a series of charts for each region delivering information presented in a very readable format.



    A fascinating secondary activity of creating a butterfly-friendly garden is the search for eggs and caterpillars, with the possibility of bringing them indoors to raise until the adult butterfly emerges from its cocoon. 

  
     By knowing the host plant species for various butterflies and by observation of the adults using those plants it is possible to identify the species right from the egg stage and to know which adult is going to emerge. The caterpillars of different species have individual marking and are usually quite easy to identify. Children are especially enthralled by observing the butterfly life cycle, in the process gaining significant scientific knowledge and developing an appreciation for environmental stewardship.
     This book, in its entirety is well done, and is produced at a critical time in our attempts to restore the earth to what it was like before we degraded it so much. Hopefully, it will lead the curious reader to want to know more and seek out other references and expand his or her environmental awareness beyond the sanctuary created in their own urban landscape.

Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide
Jane Hurwitz, $29.95, 288 pages, 8"x 10", Flexibound, 300 colour illustrations.
Publication date:11 April 2018 

35 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    What a gorgeous offering to nature! In Australia the move to 'native' has been always there - a counterpoint to those determined to have their 'English country cottage' affairs. Mine was true-blu Aussie and I loved the critters it brought with it. Here in UK, I have no ground, but am aware that there are many articles and promotions to keep an element of the wild in order to encourage insects and butterflies - even the farmers are starting to have 'nature borders' on their fields. YAM xx

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  2. Butterflies and moths are really interesting.

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  3. While out earlier I was so pleased to see some butterflies 'dancing in the air' ... we actually enjoyed a sunny afternoon in my part of the UK, and it was wonderful.

    We have many areas locally that are being encouraged as wildlife gardens and meadows, this is becoming so important.

    So interesting to read about this book, thank you.

    All the best Jan

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  4. Hi David, this looks like a great book! It would be nice if they translate it to Dutch. I don't know if you've ever been to The Netherlands but most of the gardens here are NOT insect friendly. Lots of tiles, a lawn sometimes. When I go out, I see squares of grass, grass and grass. Sometimes with cows. Some other squares with Corn or else but no nices scrubs and bushes, you have to go to special parcs or to the north/east/south of The Netherlands. My own garden is small but I planted special insect plants and hung some insect hotels on the wall. Luckely I've seen many through the years.

    Wishing you a nice weekend,
    Marianne

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    1. Hello Marianne: I have visited The Netherlands, but many, many years ago and even then only to the city of Rotterdam. I would love to return and explore the charms of the countryside.

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  5. Hello, I wish I would have seen this guide before I purchased my butterfly guidebook. It looks very nice. Great review and photos. Thanks for sharing! Have a happy weekend!

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  6. I love butterflies very much. They are so pretty. It looks like a very interesting book, David. Unfortunately we do not have so many species here in Norway.

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  7. What a wonderful post and the book looks so informative. We have similar books over here aimed at helping you to encourage wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and moths, bees etc. to the garden Our wildlife needs all the help it can get these days so if only more people could garden for nature it would be just wonderful.

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  8. Oh beautiful, I love american butterflies.

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  9. Another reason I wish I had a garden..........

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  10. Delicate creatures are the butterflies.

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  11. Perhoset ovat kauniita <3 terveiset Suomesta !

    Ronja

    https://valokuvauspaivakirja.blogspot.fi

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  12. Tack David för att du uppmärksammar även de små liven och deras betydelse för en levande natur. Egentligen tycker jag att allt levande har rätt till sin egen existens och inte enbart i relation till vad mänskligheten har för nytta av just denna lilla insekt.

    Alla älskar fjärilar tror jag men okunskapen om fjärilars komplicerade utveckling är nog ganska stor, man vet inte hur fjärilslarver ser ut och trampar ihjäl dem i rädsla över att det är en skadeinsekt.

    Hälsningar

    /Gunilla

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    1. Hello Gunilla: I agree with you absolutely. Every organism on earth has the right to its existence and everything should not be measured on the basis only of its value to humans, but even if one were to do that insect pollinators are critical to our own survival.

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  13. Gardening for habitat, so much more interesting than mere decoration. The thing about butterflies, people have to learn to tolerate caterpillars ...

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  14. Hello, David. There are so many beautiful flowers the butterflies love. It is also important to avoid chemicals to preserve all insects. We don't know how important they are for us, I belive.

    Have a lovely day, Ida

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    1. I think we do know how critical they are for all life on earth. They are critical.

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  15. Good review David. Looks to have some excellent photos and well laid out pages. No butterflies here yet although we are promised warm weather mid-week and not before time.

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  16. I agree with Catmint. Caterpillars and plants don't always go well together - especially if you are needing to eat what you grow. I have planted some plants to attract butterflies and now wonder whether I have done the right thing. When I have grown mint I have also attracted mint-moths. And mint-moths are very pretty but gobble up the more interesting mints till they are gone.

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    1. Don't forget that caterpillars also are an important food source for birds, especially when they have nestlings to feed. It's not all about us.

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    2. I know it's not all about us. But everything I sowed in the autumn got eaten by slugs - then there will be caterpillars in the summer. And caterpillars are interesting. But humans being able to eat is important too.

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  17. We used to see so many butterflies when I was a kid in PA. Slowly, over the years we saw fewer and fewer of them. Now, living in WI, we rarely see butterflies at all...even when there are gardens planted to draw them in. It's pretty sad- Diana

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    1. Unfortunately some species have been in precipitous decline but hopefully this trend can be reversed and books like this can really help people to get involved.

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  18. Awesome when I tire of travel gardening will be my focus.

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    1. Well make sure you plant with nature in mind!

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  19. I have only seen a couple of butterflies this year and much too fast to take photos of. Hopefully there will be more around very soon. Cheers Diane

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  20. It has been reported recently that last year was a disasterous year for the butterflies in UK, although I hadn't particularly noticed this (to me, some species were up and some species down). We must do all we can to enocuraged butterflies, and so many other invertebrates which are having a hard time because of the over-use of chemicals in agriculture as well as the domestic situation. They're a delight to the eye, and a significant part of the food chain, as you have pointed out - a food chain which includes ourselves. Lose the invertebrates and we are all doomed - physically and spiritually.

    Such books as this one that you are reviewing should be in every home, and its messages form part of every primary school curriculum.

    My love to you both - - - Richard

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  21. We really do have to start educating children about respect for the environment.

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  22. Hello, David. This really looks like a beautiful book. Like so many, I have a very soft spot for butterflies. We don't see many monarchs here or the blue ones, but many others and I love them all. Thanks for sharing about this.

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  23. Hi David - this does look such an excellent book for those in North America = so good to see here - cheers Hilary

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  24. this looks like an awesome book, i am so enthralled by butterflies. i have been raising butterflies in my home for the past 2 years with great success!! primarily the black swallowtails, which love dill, and also one monarch. i did a lot of reading first, made sure i was able to see it through...and had wonderful success. i wrote many blog posts about it and plan to do it again this year!!!

    setting them free was amazing!!!

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    1. We did too, Debbie. It really is interesting and very rewarding too.

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