The Language of Butterflies

Adrian Woolfson at The Washington Post:

For many, insects are an annoyance and at best an inconvenience. They deserve and even demand to be dispatched to an abrupt and untimely demise. In Victorian England, on the other hand, insects were so revered that documenting and cataloguing them became a popular and passionate pastime. The eccentric banker Charles Rothschild is said to have stopped a train to allow his servants to capture a rare species of butterfly that he had spotted from a window. His daughter Miriam Rothschild, in between determining the mechanism by which fleas jump and establishing a dragonfly reserve on her estate, became a leading authority on the monarch butterfly, which she described as “the most interesting insect in the world.”

In her glorious and exuberant celebration of these biological flying machines, “The Language of Butterflies,” Wendy Williams takes us on a humorous and beautifully crafted journey that explores both the nature of these curious and highly intelligent insects and the eccentric individuals who coveted them.

more here.