Nature lovers versus breeders. Preservationists versus poachers and smugglers. A history that goes back eons versus threatened extinctions in the 21st century. These are just some of the stories that lie within the dangerous world of....butterflies?
Here on the west coast, we enjoy seeing the annual migration of the brilliant orange monarch butterflies, some of which gather in certain trees at the Bodgea Dunes state park on the Sonoma Coast. But the Monarchs of eastern North America have a longer and far more remarkable migratory cycle.
Researching and writing this book on butterflies has opened his eyes in unexpected ways, Peter Laufer (left) says, but it also served to fulfill the unarticulated wish behind the impromptu remark that first set him onto that path.
This video compresses the life cycle of the Painted Lady butterfly into less than three minutes of striking time-lapse photography.
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War weary after writing a book about Iraq, Laufer joked before an audience that his next book would be about butterflies. The result: an invitation to a butterfly preserve in Nicaragua. There he stumbled into a theater of intrigue full of strange and nefarious characters-all in pursuit of one of nature's most delicate creatures.
The Dangerous World of Butterflies chronicles Laufer's unexpected discoveries in the butterfly industry and underground. Readers will learn everything there is to know about the beauty and magic of butterflies. But Laufer's narrative takes unpredictable turns into the high-stakes realms of organized crime, ecological devastation, species depletion, natural history museum integrity, and chaos theory. Set in locales throughout the Americas and beyond, this fascinating book takes us into a behind-the-scenes world sure to alter our view the next time we delight in the colorful fluttering of butterflies in our yards.
Butterflies are enormously popular, and have been for centuries, but not everyone loves them. There is even a website for people who are repelled by them.