Pros and Cons of the Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America

A Review of the Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America

Jim P. Brock and Kenn Kaufman

I like this book for its colourful illustrations, detailed information about habits and habitats and comprehensive listings. I would buy it again.

Best for: Patient adult and young adult readers trying to identify many butterflies.


  • Clear colour illustrations of all the butterflies of North America
  • Because the book lists all of the North American butterflies, even ones that have increased their range will be included. A regional butterfly guide may not include butterflies that have recently extended their range, such as the Giant Swallowtail.
  • Good for looking up butterflies at home after seeing the butterflies in the field. If you have taken clear photos it is even more useful. The book helps to identify the differences between butterflies which may not be obvious with a quick glance. For example it points out the extra thickness of the black line close to the body of the Canadian Tiger vs Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. This is helpful when confirming an identification of a photograph of a butterfly.
  • Lists host plants for the caterpillars of many species
  • Describes when seasonally and in which habitats the butterfly flies
  • Often gives habitat descriptions
  • Also gives general information on types of butterflies
  • Very thorough


  • Because it lists species from all of North America you have to check whether it even is common in your area
  • It does not give sizes in numbers, although it does give a silhouette of the “actual size” This means if you have an unusually large or small specimen it’s difficult to compare to the guide.
  • Not a quick “field” guide because the butterflies are arranged by type (e.g. all Swallowtails together) rather than by colour then size, so you may overlook the correct butterfly by accident while flipping through the guide

Size: 392 pages. Paperback sized.

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