Butterflies are a fascinating yet complex insect. Most of the books about butterflies are field guides, which means they focus on providing the resources for identification.
All About Butterflies Of Australia takes a different approach. The goal is to capture the readers’ imagination and encourage them to observe the butterflies in their local environment. The book is both practical and beginner-friendly. I highly recommend this to any butterfly enthusiast.
The book is separated into two sections:
- Butterfly Facts
- Butterfly families
‘Butterfly Facts’ is the first section of the book. Across 50 pages, Garry Sankowsky explores the butterflies’ life cycle, what butterflies eat, defensive behaviour, and threats. The amount of information given is quite substantial, especially given the scope of the book. The pages on the pupating behaviour of caterpillars were especially fascinating. This type of information often isn’t included in a typical field guide. It helps encourage an interest in butterflies without overwhelming the reader.
The tone was very beginner-friendly. The book reminded me of Backyard Insects due to the lack of jargon. The only flaw I had was that the sentences were often too long. At times, it wasn’t easy to read, and I felt like I had skipped over information.
A large portion of the book is dedicated to identification spreads on the key species. Garry provides a photographic overview of the main butterfly families. The rest of the guide focuses on species profiles. These are organized according to family.
The length of each profile varies according to species. Some species, such as the swallowtails, get a whole page. This is mainly to accommodate the number of images. In these cases, you will get 6-8 photographs of the species at different points in its life cycle. In other cases, three species are featured on each page. These species have two photos and minimal additional information.
The description length also varies – as does the format. With the smaller profiles, you only get information on the distribution and/or host plants. Where there are two profiles on the page, there you get an additional notes section. With the larger profiles, the information isn’t organized according to the theme. The sections have the same amount of information, but it is provided as more of a narrative.
This lack of consistency was frustrating. However, I was still able to learn a lot.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. This is the first book I would recommend to all beginners. It helps you understand what you are observing with the butterflies in your area and encourages that passion. I would definitely recommend it for those who want to go beyond identification and learn more about butterflies.