Naturalist’s Bookshelf 2: Braby’s Butterflies

braby butterfliesThe Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia

Michael Braby

Second edition, April 2016,

400 pp., pbk, $49.95

The publisher’s blurb for this book is so accurate and informative that I’m simply going to quote it:

As fascinating as they are beautiful, butterflies are a pleasure to watch and an important group of invertebrates to study. This second edition of the award-winning book The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia is a fully updated guide to all butterfly species on Australia’s mainland and remote islands.

Written by one of Australia’s leading lepidopterists, the book is stunningly illustrated with colour photographs, many of which are new, of each of the 435 currently recognised species. There is also a distribution map and flight chart for each species on the Australian mainland, together with information on similar species, variation, behaviour, habitat, status and larval food plants.

The introduction to the book covers adult structure, higher classification, distribution and habitats, as well as life cycle and behaviour. A new chapter on collecting and preserving butterflies is included. There is also an updated checklist of all species, a glossary, a bibliography and indexes of common and scientific names.

There isn’t much more that I need to say about this book except to explain its relationship to two others by the same author:

  • Butterflies of Australia (publisher’s page) appeared in 2000 as two substantial large-format hard-cover volumes describing ‘nearly 400’ species and was universally lauded for its completeness and presentation. It is still acknowledged as the standard reference; real copies are becoming harder to obtain but it is readily available as an e-book.
  • The first edition of the the Complete Field Guide (CSIRO 2004) documented 416 species in 352 pp, so the current edition represents a worthwhile step forward.
  • The sequence of the three books reminds us that we’re still discovering new species – about 10% in 16 years.

The bottom line is that if you only want one Australian butterfly book, the new edition of the Complete Field Guide is the one you want. There are other options, of course, but this one is authoritative and comprehensive while still being portable and affordable.

* Naturalists’ Bookshelf 1: Plants is here.

One thought on “Naturalist’s Bookshelf 2: Braby’s Butterflies”

  1. Hello Malcom, thankyou so much for a delightful page, which by chance I have only just found. I arrived in Cairns two years ago and have been building a small garden to attract butterflies, of which Cairns has the most beautiful and plentiful imaginable, attracting over 20 species so far. I am very new at all this so it is a real learning curve, and what a delightful one.

    My neighbour and I both planted Aristolochia vines and are enjoying the watching and pupation of these creatures. She gave me my first caterpillar a fortnight ago and since then the females have been circling the area. So, here’s hoping they found the vine suitable.

    She has just sent me beautiful pics of one of her Birdwings pupating, and thanks to your page on emergence we now know why a huge caterpillar was on her Mother-in-law’s tongue. Unknowingly she thought it was lost and put it back on the vine, however I am sure it would have sorted itself out. We are now the wiser since I forwarded her your page.

    I reborrow Michael Brady’s Complete Guide from the library, which has been invaluable, so good to know he has a newer edition that would be as well for me to purchase. On a recent trip overseas I searched Cairns and surrounds to by a silk scarf featuring our magnificent butterflies…. nothing to be found. So, being of an artistic bent I decided to have a crack at it myself. Beginning days yet but the recipients have been totally awestruck…can’t do better than giving people happiness, can you.

    Hope to encounter more folks interested in butterflies here soon. Early days.

    Cheers

    Carolyn

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