Yale University Press, March 2013. 576 pages, paperback, maps.
With a love for adventure as great as his love for butterflies, one of America’s best-known lepidopterists set himself an irresistible challenge: how many of the 800 species of butterflies known in the U.S. could he track down in a single year? Packing little more than a butterfly net and favourite binoculars in his well-travelled 1982 Honda, Robert M. Pyle embarked on the first Butterfly Big Year – a 365-day, 88,000-mile sprint to every corner of America. “Mariposa Road” is part road-trip tale, part travelogue, and part memoir of people and species Pyle encountered along the way. Most of all, the book is an unprecedented, intimate view of the entrancing world of butterflies, with new attention to their habitats in a time of environmental stress and climate change. From the California coastline in company with overwintering monarchs to the far northern tundra in pursuit of mysterious sulphurs and arctics, from the zebras of the Everglades to the leafwings and bluewings of the lower Rio Grande, Pyle completed an extraordinary journey, ruled always by surprise and discovery. With exuberance, humour, and honesty, he shares his adventures – and his amazing list of species, both identified and experienced.