Sarapiqui Chronicle: A Naturalist in Costa Rica

Allen Young, Author Smithsonian Books $44 (384p) ISBN 978-1-56098-014-8
Young, a curator at the Milwaukee Public Museum, brings the trained eye of an entomologist and an unabashed admiration for the beauty of nature to this engaging and informative account of his experiences during 21 years of field work in Costa Rica's rain forests. Much of the text is devoted to his study of the butterfly Morpho peleides , with additional observations on other insects, such as cicadas and zebra butterflies. All is enthusiastically described in accessible, informal prose, whether it's the discovery of a butterfly roost, speculation on how the ``drip tips'' on leaves benefit the forest, a hunt for cast-off cicada skins, a review of published findings on orchid pollination, or even a visit to a Costa Rican market to dig through bananas for the smelliest, most rotted fruit for butterfly food. Young also records the area's rapid deforestation, as he surveys a sun-scorched red clay landscape, recalling that ``this was once a sacred place where I walked under a succulent canopy of life.'' Photos not seen by PW . (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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