A colour Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles, by Jim Porter
This is a photoguide illustrating over 850 different species, all photographed in natural situations upon the relevant foodplants, including many varieties indigenous to continental Europe. Although I generally prefer artists illustrations I have to admit that, because of the excellent quality of the photographs that make up this book, photos work well in this case. The biggest problem with a guide like this is the variability that makes life so interesting, and though different colour morphs of some species are shown a few others such as the green form of the Elephant Hawk are missing. Never-the-less this is a magnificent undertaking, illustrating as it does all, (barring a few rarities not yet photographed), the larval forms of the macrolepidoptera of the British Isles, including species which it is thought likely may be found here at some time in the not-to-distant future as a result of migration and global warming. Following the already successful format of Skinner's "Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles" published in October 1984 this book is an excellent addition to the lepidoptera literature of the UK, being the only complete work of its sort currently in print and considerably more accessible than Buckler's voluminous and now expensive work.
The text accompanying each species starts with a description of the larvae concerned, this is followed by a list of known foodplants and then by a paragraph on the larvae's habits. Lastly there is supplied the information relevent to the particular specimen/s photographed on the plate, i.e. how and where and when collected.
I suspect this will prove to be an excellently popular book among amateurs and schools once it is known of, and I hope the publishers maintain it in print for a good number of years, the modern tendency for books to go out of print after about three years would I feel be a great disappointment for the continual influx of new readers a book like this will inevitably attract.
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