Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Disappointment


I'm getting ready for a trip to the Lesser Antilles next month. Of course, I'm planning on enjoying the insect fauna of this interesting corner of the globe. Last week, I encountered a reference to a what I hoped would be a great guide book, Butterflies and Other Insects of the Eastern Caribbean by Peter Stiling. I've been eagerly awaiting it, and it arrived today. I'm afraid that I was rather disappointed.

My expectation, given the title, was that the majority of the book would be devoted to butterflies, but that there would be some information on other groups as well. Butterflies do get the largest share of real estate in the book- 27 pages out of 83. And the book is strongest there, though still only so-so as a field guide. Strictly on this basis, I should be happy. There are other volumes available about Caribbean butterflies, so a lot of space devoted to the other groups would normally be a good thing. So not.

My main complaint is from the remainder of the book. Rather than being a guide, or indeed giving much information useful to an insect watcher, the book is more an attempt at Entomology 101 for the orders of insects found in the Lesser Antilles. Virtually all of the information is readily available (in much greater detail) from other sources. For the vast majority of the book, the text consistes of descriptions of the salient features of the orders (occasionally families) with no indication of group characteristics (like distribution, abundance, or diversity within the region) that have specific relevance to the eastern Caribbean. The book is extensively illustrated with attractive photos, none of which give any indication of locality data. Another book on Caribbean butterflies (Butterflies of Jamaica by Garraway and Bailey) gives much more complete information about the butterflies of that island, some of which will apply to the Antillies. I feel that I gained no new insights or information about Caribbean insects from Stilig's book. It will not accompany me next month.

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5 Comments:

At 14:15, Blogger BentonQuest said...

That's a bummer. Feel like writing a book? There is obviously a need for one!

 
At 22:45, Anonymous Mark H said...

Boy. How quickly you change the subject. You were pushing Spo off the boat just the other day, and now you are critiquing this book. You have no guilt about leaving "Someone" alone? And, Benton's probably right, you could probably write the better B-fly guide......................

 
At 06:21, Anonymous pablo said...

I remember being disappointed in a field guide to ferns because none of the images were in color. Then I realized that most ferns are all the same color and it was leaf shape and growth pattern that was better for distinguishing. It sits on my shelf, undisturbed.

 
At 23:30, Blogger Ur-spo said...

you are going about this all wrong.
one doesn't go to aruba to look at butterflies; one goes to the beaches to see the muscles and drink rum.

 
At 09:16, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- It is my intention to do both of those things AND look at butterflies and other insects on the trip.

 

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