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The dangerous world of butterflies : the startling subculture of criminals, coll
Laufer, Peter.
Adult Nonfiction QL542 .L38 2009

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Turning from the Iraq War, author and journalist Laufer (Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq) decided to focus on the presumably innocuous business of butterflies. There, he found yet more violence, corruption and unanswered questions, resulting in another compelling all-angles examination. Fluttering across the globe for at least 40 million years, Lepidoptera face increasing threats in modern times, largely from habitat loss and pesticides. Amateur and professional butterfly experts weigh in on everything from art to conservation, breeding and butterfly sex to development and wing colors, as well as the meaning of their fascination for humans. Lepidopterology contains a surprising stack of unsolved mysteries, including the process of metamorphosis: what goes on in the chrysalis, in which every cell of the caterpillar's body liquefies before reconstituting into a butterfly, might as well be magic. Laufer also finds controversy in commercial breeding and discovers "worldwide criminal operations" in butterfly poaching and smuggling (in which driving species to near extinction is a standard practice for pushing up specimen prices). In casual prose, Laufer delivers an absorbing science lesson for fans of the colorful bugs. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

Journalist Laufer (Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq) presents the inside story of butterflies and the people (scientists, conservationists, collectors, photographers, butterfly farmers) whose lives revolve around these beautiful creatures. The diverse group unites in opposition to the the unsavory poachers and smugglers who traffic in rare species. Jail time deters some, but the temptation is great: Queen Alexandra's Birdwing butterflies fetch $8000 a pair. Laufer chronicles how authorities captured the world's most wanted butterfly smuggler, visits a variety of museums, butterfly farms, and shows, and includes expert opinions on such debates as observing vs. collecting. Verdict: Recommended for scientists and lay readers who enjoyed Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief.-Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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