As an Indiana resident who has been interested in entomology for almost 40 years and has been photographing and researching the insects of Indiana for the past 10, I had been waiting for the publication of this book since the author first told me he was preparing it some seven years ago. I have to say that it was well worth the wait. This is not just an excellent field guide to the butterflies of Indiana, but also one of the finest field guides on butterflies that I have seen for any state.
This book has much to recommend it. First of all, photographs of live specimens as opposed to dead, pinned ones were used as the examples in the identification section, showing the reader how each species appears in life, in the situation in which the reader will be encountering them. In addition to showing particular species in their natural state, this choice appears to reflect a continuation of the more current emphasis on leaving nature as unculled as possible. Even so, Belth displays a balanced attitude on the subject, seeming to prefer photographing over collecting but understanding the necessity of reasonable collecting, as reflected in the Lepidopterists' Society statement on collecting reproduced in the book.
Second, the book includes updated range maps that provide the student of Indiana's butterfly fauna with more precise information about where particular species are and are not known to occur in the Hoosier state, thereby helping to counteract the implication of the title that every species is equally distributed throughout Indiana.
Third, for those who are acquainted less with botany than with butterflies, Belth provides detailed information about the various natural regions found throughout the state as well as an extensive section on larval hosts and adult nectar sources, which are supplemented with illustrative photographs that help to alleviate the need to have additional identifying sources on hand.
Fourth, the other sections of the book, covering such diverse topics as finding butterflies, butterfly life cycles, butterfly behavior, butterfly conservation, and activities involving butterflies--including an introduction to the increasingly popular pastime of butterfly photography--are concise but detailed, conveying a great deal of useful and fascinating information in a minimum of space.
Although packed with information, the book is small enough to be conveniently carried into the field--I know that when the butterflies start reappearing in Indiana this upcoming spring that is precisely what I will be doing.
Even though this is technically a field guide to the butterflies of Indiana, many of the butterflies that occur in Indiana also occur throughout much of the eastern United States (and beyond), making it relevant to those interested not only in the butterfly fauna of Indiana, but also in that of many other regions as well.
Overall, the book is well organized, broad ranging, and lucidly written, useful not only to the novice but also to the seasoned butterfly lover and even professional. Belth's enthusiasm for the butterflies of Indiana is palpable throughout the entire book and is also infectious, having the potential to kindle, or rekindle, an interest in the butterflies of Indiana, butterflies in general, or nature in general.
(I would like to thank the author for recognizing my small contribution [referenced under "Richard" Long on p. 82] in this excellent publication.)