Throughout his career, Henry Horn took a unique approach to the study of butterflies. This book brings together his findings with recent advances in behavioural ecology to provide an incomparable look at the social lives of butterflies, illuminating for the first time the marvellously diverse range of butterfly behaviours across several species.
Social Butterflies features in-depth studies of five sympatric species – the Plain Ringlet, the Eyed Brown, the Great Spangled Fritillary, the Viceroy, and the Pearly Eye – showing how their social interactions span much of the range of behaviours observed in vertebrates. Drawing on decades of his own keen observations in the field, Horn describes the natural history and behavioural peculiarities of each species and develops models to explain characteristic aspects of their behaviours. He then emphasizes key departures from these models to challenge the notion that butterflies are simply preconditioned to react to stimuli, showing how some make decisions by observing how other butterflies interact with the landscape and each other. Along the way, he sheds light on butterfly territoriality, mating tactics, vagrancy, feeding strategies, and more.
Charting new directions for future research, Social Butterflies poses intriguing questions about the complex and sometimes mystifying social behaviours of these marvellous creatures, making it essential reading for lepidopterists, ecologists, and anyone interested in the social behaviours of invertebrate species.
Henry S. Horn (1941–2019) was professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. He was the author of The Adaptive Geometry of Trees and the coeditor of Molds, Molecules, and Metazoa: Growing Points in Evolutionary Biology (both Princeton).
"Butterflies have proven their status as model organisms for biology, on par with mice and fruit flies. Horn shows how they provide general insights into the behavior of all animals. His very personal account of his scientific process and observation will spark new studies of butterflies and other animals."
– Nick Haddad, author of The Last Butterflies: A Scientist's Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature
"Social Butterflies demonstrates that great things can emerge by putting a clever person in a woodlot and giving him or her permission to do what comes naturally. The book's greatest value lies in its documentation of the process of discovery."
– Arthur M. Shapiro, University of California, Davis