My shiny new copy of Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies (2011 OSU Press) came in the mail today. The book is by David James and David Nunnallee and is a comprehensive account of butterflies from Southern British Columbia, Washington and Northern Oregon. The coverage is limited, but the detail given to species within its range is phenomenal.
What makes this book especially useful is its focus on life stages. James and Nunnallee have spent years photographing caterpillars through all possible instars. In many cases, by rearing them from eggs to get the requisite intermediates stages.
153 species, plus 5 subspecies are represented. For each species, there’s a photograph of the egg, photographs of all the instars, a photograph of the pupa (chrysalis) and a photograph of the adult… a photographic guide to every stage of every butterfly species in the Cascadia region. At the front of the book there is a series of quick guides that have comparative photos grouped by family that are designed to help get the field observer to the right species efficiently.
Then there’s the text. For each species, there is an account of adult biology, larval biology, a written description of the larval stages and finally a discussion of each species which includes interesting details on habitat, captive rearing tips and interactions with other plants and animals.
I think it’s safe to say there is no other reference like this, a near-perfect hybrid between identification guide and technical manual for life histories. If you have any interest in butterflies of our region, you should get yourself a copy of this book.