Field Guide: Butterflies of Southern Africa, by Ivor Migdoll
This is designed as a pocket field guide to the commoner butterflies of Southern Africa. It is obviously not a complete identification guide as only 232 of the 800+ species found in the area are illustrated. As far as I know it is the only work on the butterflies of this area currently in print, for this reason it is a useful work. Also the photos of live specimens are excellent something that improves its value. However because it illustrates such a small percentage of the fauna it will be useless as a means of generating records, one of its intended aims, as the user will be unable to assess what other species the specimen could be that are similar. This will apply particularly to the Lycaenids and the Hesperids. Another shortfall is that the images are not labelled with the appropriate page numbers so that the user can look up the relevent text, instead you have to go to the index to find the correct page. The images are instead given numbers that you can back reference to from the text.
The introductory section includes a good amount of information necessary to get a amateur started on making their own collection, including making equipment such as a net, setting boards, and cabinet. Surprisingly no addresses are given for suppliers of commercial equipment. The introduction also includes information on the biology and classification of butterflies as well as on techniques for collecting and breeding. The species accounts include information on ID, wing lengths (important as the illustrations are not life size in most cases and are not scaled), common names, flight times larval food plants and distribution, as indicated on a small map.
I think, that as with any guide of this sort (one that does include all the species likely to be encountered), that this book is aimed at the casual nature observer or the interested gardener. Anyone seriously interested in identifying butterflies from Southern Africa will soon find species which are not included in this work and will need to acquire a more complete work
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