The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists

Peter Laufer, Author Lyons Press $24.95 (271p) ISBN 978-1-59921-555-6
Turning from the Iraq War, author and journalist Laufer (Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq) decided to focus on the presumably innocuous business of butterflies. There, he found yet more violence, corruption and unanswered questions, resulting in another compelling all-angles examination. Fluttering across the globe for at least 40 million years, Lepidoptera face increasing threats in modern times, largely from habitat loss and pesticides. Amateur and professional butterfly experts weigh in on everything from art to conservation, breeding and butterfly sex to development and wing colors, as well as the meaning of their fascination for humans. Lepidopterology contains a surprising stack of unsolved mysteries, including the process of metamorphosis: what goes on in the chrysalis, in which every cell of the caterpillar's body liquefies before reconstituting into a butterfly, might as well be magic. Laufer also finds controversy in commercial breeding and discovers ""worldwide criminal operations"" in butterfly poaching and smuggling (in which driving species to near extinction is a standard practice for pushing up specimen prices). In casual prose, Laufer delivers an absorbing science lesson for fans of the colorful bugs.
Reviewed on: 05/04/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Paperback - 271 pages - 978-1-59921-927-1
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-7627-9981-7
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