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Sunday, October 25, 2015

An Obsession with Butterflies


"Architecture is a plant's first defense. Once a caterpillar begins to eat, compounds in its saliva can be recognized by the leaf as a form of attack. Whang, whang, whang. The entire plant goes on alert. A hormonal burst starts a second defense system, a counter attack that may include rushing newly produced toxins to the damaged leaf, as well as compounds that slow a caterpillar's ability to digest the plant as food."

About the Author

Sharman Apt Russell teaches writing at Western New Mexico University. She is also the author of Anatomy of a Rose, Kill the Cowboy and Songs of the Fluteplayer.
She has a unique voice. Inherently complex topics are made enjoyable.

Book Description

From the beastly horned caterpillar, whose blood helps it count time, to the peacock butterfly, with wings that hiss like a snake, Russell traces the butterflies through their life cycles, exploring the creatures' own obsessions with eating, mating, and migrating. In this way, she reveals the logic behind our endless fascination with butterflies as well as the driving passion of such legendary collectors as the tragic Eleanor Glanville, whose children declared her mad because of her compulsive butterfly collecting, and the brilliant Henry Walter Bates, whose collections from the Amazon in 1858 helped develop his theory of mimicry in nature. Russell also takes us inside some of the world's most prestigious natural history museums, where scientists painstakingly catalogue and categorize new species of Lepidoptera, hoping to shed light on insect genetics and evolution.


By Sharman Apt Russell
ISBN 0-7382-0699-7
Perseus Publishing 2003

Also see:
The North American Butterfly Association (NABA)

A Talk with Sharman Apt Russell

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