The Life Cycles of Butterflies


May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing


I have been fascinated by butterflies my whole life.  Their beauty and mystery delights me and has me running from my house chasing them around the garden trying to capture their image on my camera.  There is interesting Native American folklore about butterflies.  If you see butterflies it symbolizes that you are going through a transformation.  The one above came in late October last year as I was working in the garden and stayed right next to me enjoying the aster’s nectar before leaving for its migration south.  This weekend we had another late monarch for a brief visit in the garden.  At work my job is definitely going through a transformation so this butterfly sighting is very appropriate.

Last  month I reviewed a great book about insects,  The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs, by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards.  I liked the book so much I decided to review the authors’ first book, The Life Cycles of Butterflies.  I have become more aware of butterflies over the last 5 years; what host plant will bring butterflies into my garden, and what nectar plants they prefer.  I hope to continue to add more host plants in my garden, and observe the life cycle of many different butterflies up close and personal.  So this book seems like a perfect resource.

I am linking in with Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys and her monthly Garden Book Review meme that takes place on the 20th of every month.


The Life Cycles of Butterflies


by  Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (April 1, 2006)
List Price:  $ 16.95
Amazon Price: $11.30 (Paperback)





In A Few Words

The book starts with an introductory section detailing how a butterfly lays its eggs, how the caterpillar grows including all its parts, then onto how the chrysalis is formed, the butterfly is born and ending with a day in the life of a butterfly.  This small section alone is fascinating and I learned a lot.

The rest of the book (80% of it) is all about 23 different butterflies from Swallowtails to Fritillaries, Commas, Question Marks, RedAdmirals, Monarch, Cabbage Whites, Pearl Crescents, Buckeyes, American and Painted Ladies, Monarchs, Viceroys and more.  Each one is detailed from egg to aged chrysalis to mature butterfly.  In the Field Notes section for each butterfly, you will also see wing patterns, open- and closed-wing shots, the color variations of the male and female butterflies as well as breeding maps, interesting highlights and the life cycle season in months.  They also include the best host and nectar plants to attract and feed the caterpillars and adults.  What a resource that is.  Each butterfly has 4 pages chock full of all this information with stunning photographs.

The back of the book features a photo comparison of different eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises.  Add to this a glossary, a comparison of moths and butterflies and a bunch more butterflies that have less detailed information but great pictures, and you have a fabulous resource.  But wait! There is one more section (all about plants) that is not to be missed.  Oh well,  you have to keep reading to learn more about that.


What I Liked

There are so many wonderful aspects of this book.  First the photography will blow you away.  These pictures were taken in Judy and her brother’s garden as they were documenting these beautiful creatures.  I also like that they have featured the most common butterflies that you will find throughout a large part of the US.  Some are in other parts of the world too so this book would be useful in  North America and parts of Europe.  And with the photos is succinct text giving you the most important facts.

It helps to know where the breeding ranges are and dates of their life cycle so you know if and when you can attract them to your garden.  So I really appreciated this information.  I also loved the Field Notes adding other tidbits of info like how to find an American Lady amongst the leaves of my pearly everlasting plant.  But the best part after the 23 butterflies is the plant section.  They have pictures and details about the top host plants again outlining which butterflies the plant will attract.  And they give their top picks for nectar plants that draw in the most butterflies.  For wildlife gardeners, these plant sections give critical information in one handy reference.


Not So Much

Again I am hard pressed to find something I didn’t like.  Perhaps as Judy and Wayne learn more details about the other butterflies in the back section, they will publish a part 2 book.


Final Thoughts

I have other butterfly resource guides chock full of pictures and information as well as apps on my iTouch, but none compare to this book.  Mostly because of the pictures.  There are so many richly colored pictures that it is easy to pick out the butterfly that is visiting.  And easier to attract and feed them if you plant just a few of their recommended plants.  This books makes planting a butterfly garden easy since it really is all about the plants.

If you love butterflies, then I recommend you add this book to your library.  I think it makes a great gift for children, teachers, wildlife enthusiasts and gardeners.




The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.  ~Rabindranath Tagore


Special Note:  Books reviewed here at Gardens Eye View were purchased by me and were not gifts from publishers.

And all butterfly pictures were taken in my garden.  You can see their names by holding your cursor over the picture.


Next up on the blog:     On Wednesday I’ll share another favorite native wildflower, helianthus.  Then at the end of the month I’ll have some thoughts about rain.  The first Monday will bring us to another Garden’s Eye Journal to wrap up October.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month on the 3rd Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my current post now.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.