An Obsession with Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect
Sharman Apt Russell again blends her lush voice and keen scientific eye in this marvelous book about butterflies. From Hindu mythology to Aztec sacrifices, butterflies have served as a metaphor for resurrection and transformation. Even during World War II, children in a Polish death camp scratched hundreds of butterflies onto the walls of their barracks. But as Russell points out in this rich and lyrical meditation, butterflies are above all objects of obsession. From the beastly horned caterpillar, whose blood helps it count time, to the peacock butterfly, with wings that hiss like a snake, Russell traces the butterflies through their life cycles, exploring the creatures' own obsessions with eating, mating, and migrating. In this way, she reveals the logic behind our endless fascination with butterflies as well as the driving passion of such legendary collectors as the tragic Eleanor Glanville, whose children declared her mad because of her compulsive butterfly collecting, and the brilliant Henry Walter Bates, whose collections from the Amazon in 1858 helped develop his theory of mimicry in nature. Russell also takes us inside some of the world's most prestigious natural history museums, where scientists painstakingly catalogue and categorize new species of Lepidoptera, hoping to shed light on insect genetics and evolution. A luminous journey through an exotic world of obsession and strange beauty, this is a book to be treasured by anyone who's ever watched a butterfly mid-flight and thought, as Russell has, "I've entered another dimension."
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An obsession with butterflies: our long love affair with a singular insectUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Flashes of yellow and dazzles of metallic blue, butterflies are the most conspicuous of all insects. They are harmless and easy to approach, and their lives are in plain view at every stage: egg ... Read full review
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abdomen adult antennae ants bad-tasting Bates Batesian beetle birds birdwing brown butter butterfly house butterfly species butterfly's Cabbage White caterpil caterpillar chemical chrysalis collecting collector color Costa Rica Dick drawer drum Eleanor Glanville entomologist evolved eyespots feed female flies flowers forewings Fritillary genitalia green Heliconius Henry Walter Bates hindwing host plant insects instar Jeremy Large White Larry Gilbert larvae lay eggs leaf leaves Lepidoptera light live Longwing look male Martha metalmark migrating mimic mimicry rings Miriam Rothschild Monarchs morpho moths move Mullerian Mullerian mimicry Nabokov Natural History Museum naturalist nectar obsessed orange Painted Lady parasitic passion vines pattern pheromone Phil Philip DeVries Pipevine Swallowtail pollen Postman predators produce pupae pupation purple Queen scent Segundo Blue signal silk skipper Snout sperm spermatophore sphragis spot sulphurs terflies toxic trees underside Vladimir Nabokov wasps Western Tiger Swallowtail wings yellow