Butterflies of Europe

This book is published by Tristan Lafranchis and to buy a copy follow this link to Amazon.com.

Butterflies of Europe

by Tristan Lafranchis

ISBN = 2 9521620 0 X
Price = £20.00 + p& p
Price in Euros = 30.00 + p& p
p& p = 3.5 Euro for Greece, 6.00 Euro for the rest of Europe
Published = Late 2004
Review written = 14/February/2005
351 pages

It was quite a pleasure to receive my copy of the latest guide to the Butterflies of Europe. This one is by Tristan Lafranchis and is unusual in that it also is a key. Keys are something I am quite familiar, for insects such as beetles, flies, bees and grasshoppers, but this is the first one that I have had for European Butterflies.

It is paperback and will fit into the pockets of my army surplus trousers so if I am not interested in taking my rucksack off every time I want to consult it there is no problem there. Getting inside it I found it to be well produced. Yes it really is a key and quite a usable at that. It is very well illustrated by a mixture of photos from both the field and lab.

1,300 photos to cover about 400 species allows for good coverage and the photos are clear. Furthermore for problem groups such as the various Hipparchia species the photo key is augmented by a genitalia key. The authors explain a method of examining the genitalia of males of the medium to large species without killing the butterfly. In fact the authors dedication to removing the necessity for butterfly deaths is quite laudable and I hope their attitude will prove more acceptable as time progresses.

The book has two advantages over the Collins guide that I habitually use, the first of these is that the distribution maps are located with the keys, descriptions and species photos. The second is that the pages are coloured for a section on the leading edge in a way that codes for the species groups. This is a great convenience in allowing you to get to the blues of browns quickly as you can see which section of the book they are in before you open it.

Naturally enough, as I received my copy on 6th of February and the temperature has hovered around 2C all day for the last two weeks there have been few opportunities for me to test the book on live specimens, however I did have a few troublesome specimens left over from last summer, now spread and set but a test anyway. I found the keys work well, but that, as the author says, they fall short of some of the variations.

All told if you are looking for a book to get you started on the butterflies of Europe this will do the job well, and if you are familiar with the common species already and looking to extend your expertise then this book will also serve your purposes well.

Highly Recommended

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