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William D. Winter, Jr.
Memoirs of the Lepidopterists’ Society No. 5
900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007
2000, 444 pp. Softcover
Have you ever wondered about how to determine the tax write-off value for your butterfly/moth collection or why aqueous ammonia is a better killing agent than carbon tetrachloride? Do you have questions about where to buy pheromone lures for a Unitrap or what the hazards are when using a UV light source for blacklight trapping? If so, then this is the book for you. Until now, lepidopterists have had to search a diverse literature or approach a sometimes unfriendly professional to gain tips on techniques for their avocation. This book is a compendium of techniques taken from The News of the Lepidopterists’ Society and provides a complete resource for beginning and intermediate lepidopterists.
The book contains advice on everything from butterfly/moth photography and curation to lepidopteran philately and appraisal of collections. There are 13 chapters covering areas such as photography, identification (including a whole chapter on genitalia preparation), butterfly gardens, rearing, collecting, pinning, and various chapters covering regulations, collections, and suppliers. Following each chapter is a list of additional references, and, at the end, there are 15 appendices, a glossary, and a subject index. The appendices offer information on preparing reports and manuscripts, finding books and supplies, and choosing research projects or careers in lepidoptery. The breadth and depth of information in this book is amazing, and any information not contained often is referenced. The layout of the book is not flashy. There are no color plates, and the graphs range in style with most having the feel of being done on a home computer. However, the numerous graphs are concise and easy to read. Another difficulty in reading is the atypical fonts that make the table of contents visually overwhelming; consequently, it is easier to navigate using the subject index in the back.
One of the difficulties reading this book is the range in writing quality among chapters. Each chapter is "augmented and reviewed" on average by four authors. With multiple authors, it is understandable that there will be different styles in writing; however, there is a great disparity in quality between the different chapters. Most are well written and concise; unfortunately, some are difficult to read with awkward sentence structure and typographical errors.
After reading the title I had expected a portion of the book to be devoted to studying behavior. However, the book does not formally address behavior nor does it have information on activities such as butterfly counts or mark/recapture; however, these activities may be more in line with scientific endeavors and, therefore, are not in the scope of the book. Having said that, it is hard to fault this book for truly lacking in any area because the amount of information it covers is overwhelming.
Overall, this is not a book you would pick up and read cover to cover for fun. Its strengths lie mainly as a reference. It contains a wealth of information that would be invaluable for lepidopterists. I highly recommend this book to any lepidopterist or anyone interested in the technical aspects of rearing and displaying butterflies and moths.
Stephen R. Thomas
Department of Entomology, Fernald Hall
University of Massachusetts,
Amherst, MA 01003
Vol. 47, No.2, Summer 2001