Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Focus Guides)

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9780618254002: Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Focus Guides)
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More than 2,300 images of butterflies in accurate, lifelike poses highlight this complete guide to North American butterflies, which includes handy indexes, range maps, and helpful identification tips.

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About the Author:

KENN KAUFMAN, originator of the Kaufman Field Guide series, is one of the world's foremost naturalists.  

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A Note from Kenn Kaufman

Most people seem to be aware of butter?ies more as symbols than as real
living creatures. Although there are hundreds of species of butterflies in
North America, they somehow escape public notice most of the time. Out in
plain sight, they lead secret lives.
I still recall how surprised I was when I began to notice them
myself. At the age of fourteen, having learned a lot of my local birds, I
decided to see if there were any butterflies in the neighborhood. Amazingly,
as soon as I began looking for them, they appeared: Little Wood-Satyrs
flopping through the woods, tiny Reakirt"s Blues on weed flowers in vacant
lots, and dozens more. Although I had been outside looking for birds, up to
that time I had utterly missed these other winged creatures.
Butterflies are not birds, of course. They are very different in their
habits, yearly cycles, and population dynamics. And they"re a lot smaller.
The biggest ones, like Monarchs and Giant Swallowtails, may grab our
attention, but most of the diversity is among the smaller butterflies. We
have far more species of little hairstreaks, blues, skippers, and the like than
we do of the big guys. Small can be beautiful: even the tiniest butterflies have
intricate patterns that are well worth appreciating. But until recently, it has
been extremely difficult to identify many of these butterflies in the field.
Even separating some larger species has been problematic, because their
identification often depends on small details. Until the recent development
of good close-focusing binoculars and cameras, many butterflies could be
recognized only by expert lepidopterists with vast experience.
I have been lucky enough to have one such lepidopterist as a
good friend for years, and luckier still that he is the kind of expert who is
always ready to share his knowledge. Jim Brock has studied butterflies
from Alaska to Brazil, and in the field he dazzles everyone with his ability to
find and identify even the rare and little-known species; but he will also
patiently point out the most common butterflies to anyone who wants to
know them. Jim agreed to coauthor this book as a way of helping new-
comers to the field. In doing so, he graciously accepted the challenge of our
Focus Guide format: boiling his vast knowledge down to just the essentials
that would be most useful in a pocket-sized book. If any serious
lepidopterists are displeased by the treatments here, they should blame me,
not Jim Brock.
But of course serious lepidopterists (who already have their
technical reference works) are not the primary audience for this book. The
Focus Guides are shortcuts, intended to be the best and fastest way to get
started in a subject, to send you outside quickly, putting names on what
you find. Slip this book into your pocket the next time you go exploring, and
start discovering the secret world of butterflies for yourself.

In naming a butterfly, the first step is to make sure that it really is one. The
order Lepidoptera includes the moths as well as the butterflies, and some
moths are active by day and are quite colorful. Usually they sit or behave in
an obviously different way from butterflies. If in doubt, look at the antennae.
On butterflies, the tip of each antenna has a thickened area, or "club." North
American moths lack this feature; their antennae are either threadlike to the
tip, feathery, or fringed along the edges.
Butterflies have four wings: two on each side, the forewing and the
hindwing. The upperside and underside of each wing usually has a different
pattern. To describe a color pattern on a butterfly, therefore, we have to say
where it is — for example, on the upperside of the forewing. Lepidopterists
can describe butterfly patterns in great detail using a system of numbering
the wing veins and the spaces between them. It"s hard to apply that system
to an active butterfly in the wild, so we don"t use it in this guide, except to
point out the cell, an area outlined by veins near the base of each wing.
However, a few terms are necessary for communicating about the intricate
patterns of some species; see the diagrams below for the simplified
terminology used in this guide.

What to look for: Wing patterns are obviously important in identifying
butterflies, but they are not the only clues. Here are some other points to

Size: Some swallowtails are six inches or more from one wingtip to the
other, while some blues are much less than an inch across. Since these
wingspan measurements are hard for most people to visualize, we have
treated sizes in this guide by showing one individual on each color plate at
actual life size in gray outline. The illustrations are in correct scale relative
to the others on that page, but not necessarily to those on other pages; be
sure to check the "actual size" figure each time you turn the page, to get an
idea whether the butterflies shown are actually big, medium-sized, or small.
Little butterflies do not grow up to be big ones: once they
complete the transformation to winged adult, their size does not change.
However, there are variations within a species. Early spring individuals are
often smaller than those of summer; females are often larger than males.
And occasionally we see a "runt" individual that is oddly small. But with
experience, you will find that size is usually a good quick clue to

Shape: At a glance, most butterflies may seem to be roughly the same
shape. With closer study, you will begin to see differences in wing shapes
that help to create the distinctive look of each species. Some have
extended "tails" on the hindwings, or jagged or scalloped outer wing
margins. Other differences are much more subtle, such as the wingtips being
slightly more rounded or pointed. But with practice you will find that a
butterfly"s shape is an important identifying mark.

Posture: The way a butterfly sits is always worth noticing. Sulphurs almost
always perch with their wings folded tightly above their backs; metalmarks
usually have their wings spread out flat; cloudywings usually hold their
wings half open in a shallow V; and grass skippers often hold their hindwings
spread farther than their forewings. Any butterfly may sit in an odd position
at times, but the typical posture can be a good clue to identification. We
have tried to illustrate and describe this for all species.

Flight style: Experts often can recognize a butterfly as it flits past — not
because they can actually see detailed field marks on its fast-moving
wings, but because the way it flies is a field mark in itself. Some species fly
erratically, others more directly; some flutter along with regular steady
flaps, while others flap a few times quickly and then glide. These flight styles
are hard to describe in words, but with practice you will learn to recognize
many of them.

Fine details: Some field marks involve very small details, such as the colors
of the eyes, the color or pattern on the antennae, or the color of the "face"
(the palps, on the front of the head). These things really can be seen in the
field, but for wary species you may need to use binoculars. Good
binoculars are now available that can focus as close as just a few feet away,
allowing incredible views of butterflies and other small creatures.

Variation in butterflies: As with humans and other living things, no two
individual butterflies look exactly alike. Most of the variation within a
species is so minor that you won"t notice it in the field, but sometimes it"s
enough to cause confusion. Occasionally you"ll see an individual that looks
totally unlike the normal color pattern for its species; these aberrant
butterflies may be identifiable only by shape or other clues.
Many species vary from place to place, and if these variations are
well marked, a local or regional population may be designated as a
subspecies; see p. 14 for more information. There are also seasonal
variations. For example, Zebra Swallowtails flying in spring are smaller and
paler than those flying in summer, even though they all belong to the same
species; Goatweed Leafwings flying in fall have more sharply pointed
forewings than those flying in early summer. Males and females often differ
in pattern or even in shape — sometimes subtly, sometimes so strikingly
that they appear to be unrelated. And finally, every individual butterfly
gradually changes in appearance as its condition becomes more worn and
faded. The two Painted Ladies shown here, for example, were sitting on
flowers in the same meadow. The ragged one on the right can still be
identified, because Painted Ladies have lots of field marks, but some
butterflies in this condition would be unrecognizeable.

Habitat and season: Many butterflies are restricted to particular habitats,
and this is a key not only to finding them but to identifying them. We give
habitat descriptions for most species in this guide, and these should always
be considered. Seasons are important as well. Even in warm climates, only a
few species are on the wing year-round; in most species, adults are present
only in certain seasons. We usually describe these flight seasons in
general terms, such as "early summer," and these designations relate to
local conditions, not arbitrary calendar dates. The Sara Orangetip, for
example, is an early spring butterfly. It may appear by late January in
Arizona and not until the end of May in the Yukon Territory, but those dates
qualify as "early spring" in both locations.

About the illustrations: Naturalists have debated for years whether field
guides should be illustrated with paintings or photographs. This book uses
a third method, introduced in 2000 with the first Kaufman Focus Guide, Birds
of North America: we begin with photos and edit them digitally to make them
all directly comparable, as paintings would be.
Some butterflies, such as sulphurs, never bask with their wings
open; but it is still useful to know the colors of their uppersides, because
even at a glimpse in flight, a pale yellow one will look different from an
orange one with black borders. For most species like this, we provide
illustrations at reduced size showing their uppersides as an aid to
identification. Understanding the range maps: One of the most important
clues to identification involves knowing where you are. Most butterflies have
very specific ranges and are unlikely to be seen anywhere else. This is a
good thing, because some groups include similar species that are much
easier to tell apart by range than by field marks. For example, Eastern and
Western Tailed-Blues look very much alike, but in most places you will find
only one or the other, not both. In identifying any butterfly, always check the
range maps to see which ones are likely in your region.
Most of the range maps in this guide have the distributions of the
butterflies indicated in green. This color means that the species is flying in
summer (the peak butterfly season in most areas) or in more than one
season (for example, spring and summer, or even most of the year). We
use a darker shade of green for areas where the species is most common,
and a paler shade for areas where it is less likely to be seen. These
designations are quite arbitrary, but we hope they will be helpful in giving a
general idea of which species are most expected.
A few species fly mainly in spring or mainly in fall; these are
mapped in blue for spring, orange for fall, again with a darker shade for the
areas where they are more common.
Some butterflies, especially from southern regions, sometimes
stray far from their normal haunts. If there is a regular pattern of such
straying, we indicate it on the map with a dashed line beyond the typical

Some butterflies are adaptable and may show up almost anywhere, but
most prefer a particular habitat. You will not see Salt Marsh Skippers in a
forest or Desert Elfins in a marsh. To see a wide variety of butterflies,
therefore, it"s necessary to visit many habitats. You should go at various
seasons, because many species have rather short flight periods: Falcate
Orangetips fly only in spring, Apache Skippers only in fall. This adds to the
enjoyment of butterfly watching, because you can hope to see different
species on repeat visits to the same place during the year.

Flowers: Not all butterflies fit the classic image of visiting flowers to sip
nectar — some species are rarely or never seen at flowers. Still, to get
started, the easiest way to find butterflies is to find a good patch of blooms
in a garden or meadow, or by a roadside. Some flowers seem to be more
attractive than others, and some butterflies prefer certain types of flowers,
so it pays to look in a variety of places.

Mud: Males of some butterflies, including blues, swallowtails, and sulphurs,
are strongly attracted to damp soil. They are apparently taking in salts and
other chemicals from the mud. Sometimes these "puddle parties" involve
several species and hundreds of individuals, while at other times only a few
individuals will be present, but you should always check puddles and pond
edges for the presence of butterflies.

Other baits: Many butterflies are attracted to odd things such as flowing
sap, rotting fruit, or animal dung. (This is especially true of some species that
tend to ignore flowers, such as the Goatweed Leafwing and the Question

Aside from these feeding behaviors, adult butterflies put most of their
energy into activities related to reproduction. Males spend a lot of time
looking for females; females spend much time looking for the right places to
lay their eggs. Knowing their behaviors can help you find them.

Hilltopping: Male butterflies of some species look for mates by flying to the
top of a hill and patrolling or waiting there for the females to show up. If we
check the tops of low hills, especially from late morning to afternoon, we
may see butterflies that are hard to find in the surrounding country.

Patrolling: Males of other species fly back and forth along linear pathways,
such as trails or gullies, looking for females. They may come back time
after time to the same perches, allowing for repeated views.

Foodplants: Many butterflies are closely tied to the plants on which their
larvae feed. Hessel"s Hairstreaks are seldom seen away from Atlantic white
cedars; Square-spotted Blues are usually seen sitting on buckwheats. A
skilled lepidopterist is often able to find particular butterflies by learning to
recognize their larval foodplants.

The amazing process of metamorphosis — the butterfly"s transition from
egg to caterpillar to pupa to winged adult — is well known and fairly well
understood, but it is still rightly regarded as a miracle.
The process begins with the egg laid by the adult female on or
near the plants that will serve as food for the caterpillars. Most butterfly
caterpillars cannot survive on the wrong plants, so the adult"s choice of

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9780618768264: Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Focus Guides)

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