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University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2007

UI Press Publishes Comprehensive Guide to 'The Butterflies Of Iowa'

"The Butterflies of Iowa," a book featuring nearly 400 color photographs and more than 100 maps and diagrams, is now available from the University of Iowa Press. This comprehensive guide by Dennis W. Schlicht, John C. Downey and Jeffrey C. Nekola is a manual for identifying the butterflies of Iowa as well as 90 percent of the butterflies in the Plains states.

In addition to being available from bookstores and online retailers, "The Butterflies of Iowa" is available directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at In the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, contact Eurospan, 3 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8LU, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 1767 604972, or online at

The book begins by providing information on the natural communities of Iowa, the history of lepidopteran research in Iowa and the creation of butterfly gardens, followed by a series of questions and issues relevant to the study of butterflies in the state.

The second part contains accounts, organized by family, for the 118 species known to occur in Iowa. Each account includes the common and scientific names for each species, its status in Iowa, adult flight times and number of broods per season, distinguishing features, distribution and habitat, and natural history information including behavior and food plant preferences. As a special feature of each account, the authors have included questions that illuminate the research and conservation challenges for each species.

In the third section, illustrations are grouped for easier comparison among species, and color photographs of all the adult forms that occur in Iowa are provided. Male and female as well as top and bottom views are shown for most species. The distribution maps indicate in which of Iowa's 99 counties specimens have been collected, and flight times for each species are shown by marking the date of collection for each verified specimen on a yearly calendar.

The book ends with a checklist, collection information specific to the photographs, a glossary, references, and an index. The authors' meticulous attention to detail, stimulating questions for students and researchers, concern for habitat preservation, and joyful appreciation of the natural world make it a valuable and inspiring volume.

Diane Debinski, who teaches ecology, evolution and organismal biology at Iowa State University, commented, "Without a doubt, this is the most comprehensive guide to butterflies in Iowa. It provides information regarding both historic and present-day distributions relative to landforms, plant resources, and specific natural areas. In addition to the standard morphological descriptions, each species is described relative to flight time, natural history and particular questions that need future research."

Dennis Schlicht is an advanced-placement biology instructor at George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, and he has been studying butterflies for more than 40 years. Entomologist John Downey (1926-2005) retired in 1988 as graduate dean of the University of Northern Iowa. Jeff Nekola is an adjunct associate professor in the biology department at the University of New Mexico.

"The Butterflies of Iowa" is part of the Bur Oak series from the UI Press. Recognizing the richness of the Midwest's heritage, this series of original and reprinted books is named after the state tree of Iowa. These books represent the UI Press' dedication to preserving the literature, history, geography, and the culture of the region.

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