Langourov M. 2022 Butterflies of Bulgaria. Photographic field guide. National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, 353 pp.
A long-awaited book is now in the hands of hungry for knowledge readers. Within the 353 pages of the electronic and printed editions, all species of butterflies found in Bulgaria are described in Bulgarian and in English. The book features a total of 218 species from 6 families, including species known to inhabit neighbouring territories that could potentially also be found here.
Almost every European country has a field guide for its butterfly fauna, and this bilingual edition fills this gap in natural knowledge for our country. The book is a logical conclusion to the build-up of an enormous knowledge base — observations and photos, as well as the series of previous publications of the author spanning the last 20 years.
The field guide contains a brief description section that points out characteristic markings for each species and the difference between males and females, where such dimorphism is present. The incredibly rich illustrative material allows for this section to be brief and removes the need for complex detailed descriptions. The wingspan of each species is also provided separately. This also allows for easier identification, even though wingspan varies between species. All these characteristics are easy to understand and discover and recognise in the field. The following two sections of the book include information on the butterflies’ usual biotopes and food plants. Combined with the information on distribution and flight period, these will help beginners easily start discovering the species featured in this edition.
A last, but not least, helpful feature of the field guide is its grouping of similarly looking species, as well as the description of the main distinctive features for similar species at the end of the text for each taxon.
The author has made the Bulgarian text as accessible for a wide audience as it could be, avoiding overly technical terminology where possible. This is why students, including interested children, can also easily use the book even if they need a bit of help in the beginning. The technical terminology is preserved in the English text and anyone who wishes can delve into it. In some cases, this leads to some differences between the English and Bulgarian texts.
The enormous volume of information that this book analyses and includes is the likely reason for some minor oversights. The Scarce Large Blue, which is present in the index, is lacking from the Bulgarian text. The readers will easily realise that this is the species Phengaris teleius. In the paper edition, in the interest of not reducing image quality, the sexual dimorphism symbols for some species are presented with very fine lines. Luckily, this difficulty is easy to overcome. The order of illustrations is the same throughout the book.
It is doubtless that Mario Langourov’s book is a good foundation for discovering this incredibly important and vulnerable part of Bulgarian biodiversity. It presents a synthesis of everything we need to recognise every species of the Bulgarian day-active butterfly fauna and will be of interest not only for the scientific community and butterfly lovers in the country and abroad, but also for all beginners who want to enjoy the beauty of this exceptional group of insects. Not least, the book will help form children and students’ understanding of nature conservation and preserving species and their habitats, and will help them grow to love and accept the beauty of the natural world around us. And this is exactly where important conservation decision-making begins.
Bulgarian entomologists and nature lovers eagerly await future similar works regarding Bulgaria’s neighbouring territories.
The field guide is published by NMNHS as part of the program Education with Science II and is printed with the financial support of the Ministry of Education and Science. The book is distributed for free and will be used in the educational program of the museum as part of the natural sciences education. This book’s publication is part of the efforts of the National Museum of Natural History, and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences to popularise science through accessible language.
The electronic edition is freely available on the museum website.
We wish you pleasant reading and wonderful moments spent with butterflies among Bulgarian nature!