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1 March 2012 Learn about Butterflies in the Garden
Laura G. Alexander
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This book is a glossy, full-color pictorial guide to the life-history stages of some common butterflies and moths, along with gardening and rearing advice. According to the preface, Ms. Dziedzic is an Advanced Master Gardener—a certification awarded by the American Horticultural Society for horticultural training and performing volunteer services, and a self-taught butterfly enthusiast.

The gardening portion of the book is surprisingly brief, considering her experience in that realm, and primarily gives tips for a small backyard garden in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Nevertheless, her advice seems sound and to-the-point, and focuses on native plants that attract butterflies either as host plants or as food sources for adult butterflies. She also emphasizes aspects of the garden that help create an environment to attract butterflies by filling a variety of their needs, such as shelter from the wind, and spots for sunning or puddling (acquiring nutrients from damp soil). Her advice on rearing butterflies from eggs collected in the garden is detailed, but simple enough for a novice to follow. The author also provides rearing advice on her website (

The bulk of Dziedzic's book is composed of close-up photos of the life-history stages, from egg to adult, of 36 species of butterflies, skippers and moths, with descriptive captions, lists and some photos of host plants, and range maps. The photo captions include information such as the length of time for the various developmental stages, how the species overwinters, number of broods, host/larval food plants, and adult food preferences. I do not know why she chose these species, although presumably many are found in her own garden. All but four have range maps that indicate wide-spread distribution across the United States, making the book useful for readers throughout the U.S. One species, the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is a notorious pest of hardwood trees and was included, according to the author, to prevent accidental rearing.

Each species record contains over a dozen photos, several for each life stage: egg, larva, chrysalis, and adult. Dziedzic appears to have reared many of these species herself and, indeed, she took all but 39 of the 493 photos in this section. The photos are not just beautiful but also are helpful for the gardener who, in order to encourage butterflies in his or her garden, must recognize them in all their forms.

Diversity is the wrench tossed into the machinery of identification, whether you are a layperson or a seasoned field biologist. One of the most useful qualities of Dziedzic's photos is the diversity they reveal. The book includes photos showing different color morphs of larvae, e.g., the Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis (p. 202), and dorsal and ventral surfaces of adult butterflies, e.g., the Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta (p. 207). Photos also show changes over time in egg color, e.g., the Red-spotted Purple, Limenitis arthemis (p. 216), larval instars, e.g., the Common Checkered-skipper, Pyrgus communis (p. 244), and the developing chrysalis, e.g., the Clouded Sulphur, Colias philodice (p. 83).

There is one identification error in the book that was noted by the author in her cover letter to the editor. The photo on p. 33 indicating the ventral surface of the Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes, should read Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus.

Ms. Dziedzic's book offers concise advice and beautifully detailed photos for anyone who wants to encourage butterflies in the garden in all forms, including rearing them. This book would be an excellent addition to the library of the experienced entomologist interested in the life-history stages of these common Lepidoptera.

Laura G. Alexander "Learn about Butterflies in the Garden," The Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 66(1), 56, (1 March 2012).
Published: 1 March 2012
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