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Old 11-11-2011, 08:46 AM   #1
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butterfly Butterfly Field Guides

It's becoming clear to me that if I want to fully enjoy my soon-to-be garden, I should know what's visiting it! I want to purchase a butterfly/moth field guide and figured where better to get opinions on the best than from you all.

Please let me know your favorites, and if you didn't use a guide to learn species, how you taught yourself butterfly ID.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:11 PM   #2
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The two I use are Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America and Butterflies through Binoculars The East: A Field Guide to the Butterfles of Eastern North America by Jeffrey Glassberg. Kaufman uses illustrations while Glassberg uses photgraphs. Glassberg's book separates the photos and brief description for ID purpose from a detailed description including habitat, range, foodplants, abundance by location and time of year etc. I use both equally, usually grabbing Kaufman first for a quick ID then going to Glassberg for more detailed info and to double-check ID using the photographs. Both are very good references.
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:27 AM   #3
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My best learning tool was my camera. With a photo you can really study the markings that are used to ID a butterfly. With digital cameras you can take many pictures of a butterfly without running up any cost. That way one of the pictures will show the marks on the butterfly that you need to ID it. Sometimes it's on the top of the wings, sometimes on the bottom of the wings and sometimes both views are needed.

That's when the field guide(s) come in. Comparing your photos and the photos in the field guide along with the written descriptions will really help you learn what to look for. You can do it at your leisure and take all the time you need. Soon you will be able to ID a lot of butterflies in the field with only one good look. You will also wind up with a great collection of photos of all the butterflies that you've seen.

With respect to the field guides, try to get one that focuses on your area. There are some great books out there on identifying butterflies, but if you have to look through hundreds and hundreds of photos to find the one you are trying to ID it can become too tiresome. I'm fortunate in that I have both a field guide Butterflies of the North Woods - Minnesota, Wisconsin & Michigan and a website http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/butterfly that focus specifically on my area. If you can find something similar for New York it would be a big help to you.

Jeffrey Glassberg in his book Butterflies through Binoculars The East: A Field Guide to the Butterfles of Eastern North America has some very helpful information on identifying butterflies. He thought it important enough to put it in bold text: "With butterflies, you can make identification much simpler by asking yourself: Where am I? What time of the year is it? What habitat is this? Is this butterfly closely associating with a particular plant? Many species are found only in certain areas. Some fly only in the early spring, others only in mid-summer. Most species are found in some types of habitats and not others, and related species often are associated with different caterpillar foodplants."

If you think you'd like a key or checklist type of identification guide, this website may be helpful:
Butterflies -- identification guide -- Discover Life
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWisc View Post
My best learning tool was my camera. With a photo you can really study the markings that are used to ID a butterfly. With digital cameras you can take many pictures of a butterfly without running up any cost. That way one of the pictures will show the marks on the butterfly that you need to ID it. Sometimes it's on the top of the wings, sometimes on the bottom of the wings and sometimes both views are needed.

That's when the field guide(s) come in. Comparing your photos and the photos in the field guide along with the written descriptions will really help you learn what to look for. You can do it at your leisure and take all the time you need. Soon you will be able to ID a lot of butterflies in the field with only one good look...
Or you can post your pics on WG and suunto will tell you what it is for free.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
If you think you'd like a key or checklist type of identification guide, this website may be helpful:
Butterflies -- identification guide -- Discover Life
Nice link!
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:04 AM   #6
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NEWisc, that website is great!!

I think I've identified one already! It wasn't from my yard, but I saw it at work a couple months ago. I took a quick picture with my phone, but had no idea how I was going to ID it. I was thinking of just posting here for someone to tell me, but there's no fun in that. I'd much rather try myself first. So, thanks, and I hope I'm right!
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