The Hazards of Butterfly Collecting

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HAZARDS OF BUTTERFLY COLLECTING.

Torben B. Larsen.

A compilation of previously published accounts, with 147 illustrations and photographs.

256 pages.

Softcover. ISBN 0-9548375-0-9.

How much entomologising can be squeezed into a lifetime?

Torben Larsen has chased butterflies in many of the worlds exotic if unsavoury localities, and has experienced more than his share of adventure whilst naming over a hundred new taxa.

Some will have read his light-hearted accounts as a series entitled Hazards of Butterfly Collecting, published over the years in the pages of Entomologists Record.

These articles have taken us from Copenhagen to Hanoi by way of New Delhi and Benin, experiencing arrest, blindness, cyanide, Kalashnikovs, malaria and leeches, not to mention the encounters with drunken soldiers, snakes, wild animals and colourful locals.

This little volume pulls together 95 of these entertaining episodes, not in chronological sequence, but in a way that allows the reader to dip in to particular themes.

Every tale is about the pursuit of butterflies, and many have a moral to them, but the main purpose, as Torben explains, is to raise a chuckle.

Two favourites were about ad hoc experimentation into the effectiveness of aposematic colouration and mimicry; the first involved feeding butterflies to a chameleon, the second proved the instinctive fear that monkeys have for snake-like larvae.

Those repelled by the idea of such experiments, or by talk of killing jars and butterfly collections, will be placated by his shrewd insights on eco-systems, habitat destruction and butterfly ecology.

Many of these were observations made ahead of their time, and revealing his true colours as a pioneering conservationist.

New readers will surely warm to the entomological expertise and ready wit of our Danish Indiana Jones.

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