One might be forgiven for thinking that WILDGuides have been around forever, and I would suspect that a survey of naturalists would reveal that many, if not most, have used one title or another at some stage in their lives. For many of us, old editions are dog-eared and battered, having served us well in the field, and continue to do so to this day.
It is hard to believe that this is the fourth edition of the butterfly guide, and it is more complete than ever, filled with a stunning array of coloured photographs of every species known to occur in the British Isles.
It is significant that the book was produced in cooperation with Butterfly Conservation, the leading UK organization involved in such matters. Such a synergistic relationship can only enhance the prospects for a serious attempt to restore endangered populations.
This guide is really well done. It serves as an excellent reference for neophytes but fits equally well into the library of seasoned entomologists.
The entire sequence of the butterfly life cycle is covered, with a remarkable collection of photographs depicting every stage from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
A section is devoted to butterfly habitats with a series of pleasing images that represent typical landscapes where different species may most easily be found. Further, the foodplants of the various species receive serious attention, and I can't think of a better way to enhance one's chances of finding a target species than to know where and upon what it might be feeding.
The glossary is well done, and the range maps that accompany each species account are easily understood, with an accompanying diagrammatic key to the period of the year when the different stages in the organism's life cycle may be observed.
Links to further reading and to important internet sites are given, and there are notes on butterfly conservation and legislation.
No guide today would be complete without a comment on the potential effects of climate change (some of which are already evident) and such is the case in Britain's Butterflies. One must hope that in the next edition one does not read of a litany of extinctions and species in peril. Surely we can come to our senses and embark on the long journey to reverse the deadly forces we have set in motion.
One of the beneficial effects of restrictions on "normal" activities brought about by COVID-19 has been an increased awareness of nature. People confined to their backyards have begun to notice creatures they had formerly paid no attention to, chief among them gloriously coloured butterflies, floating like ephemeral fairies on a bright summer's day. Planting for wildlife is on the increase and suburbia is becoming ever more critter-friendly.
You too can make your garden friendly for butterflies. The authors hope you will.
Britain's Butterflies - Princeton University Press (WILDGuides)
Authors: David Newland, Robert Still, Andy Swash, David Tomlinson
Paperback - US$24.95 - £17.99 - ISBN: 9780691205441
Published: 3 November 2020
256 pages - 600+ colour photographs - 10 line illustrations
5.88" x 8.25"