University of Pittsburgh Press

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The Titles

The Butterflies of West Virginia and Their Caterpillars, by Thomas J. Allen

The Reviews

The Butterflies of West Virginia and Their Caterpillars

by Thomas J. Allen

ISBN = Pbk 0 82295657 8
Price (including P&P) = Hbk $30.00, Pbk $20.00,
Published = 1977
Review written = 19/May/1998
388 pages.
50 Colour Plates

This work describes and illustrates the 128 species of butterfly that you are likely to find in West Virginia. The plates are standard set specimens for the adults and live photos for the larvae. The first 33 pages are the introduction. This starts with a description of the topography of the state detailing the environmental forces which govern the diversity of habitats making up West Virginia. The next section explains the format of the guide, this is followed by an introduction to butterfly biology including morphology and life cycles. After this there is a short chapter on studying butterflies and another on bringing butterflies into your garden which includes several useful lists of plants.

On page 34 the real work of the guide begins with a key to families and subfamilies of the species covered in this work. This is followed by the species accounts which are more than adequate giving information on: Description; Distribution; Habitat; Life history; Nectar sources; and larval host plants. The inclusion of the flight period information as part of the half page section on 'Life histroy' rather than under its own subheading is unusual but not really a problem once you are used to it. Each species report covers 1.3 to 1.5 pages and supply a good amount of information. The set specimens are nicely spaced on the plates, not crammed in, which is pleasant, the quality seemed to vary between plates but not drastically. The thing that really makes this work, and several other US state compendiums, is the inclusion of larval photos for all the species covered. These are of excellent quality and well presented, and as if this wasn't enough, the author has included photos of half (64) of the pupa as well. All in all this is a really attractive work which should be of great use to all the residents of West Virginia as well as to those in nearby states or planning to visit WV.

Highly Recommended

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