Butterflies are fickle creatures; when you set out to look for them, there is no guarantee that they will make a command performance.
—Simone Hébert Allard, author
Did you know there are over 100 different species of butterflies in Manitoba?
Seven years ago author, artist and journalist Simone Hébert Allard set out to combine science and anecdotal information to create a thorough but fun book about butterflies.
SCENE wanted to know more about Allard's interest in lepidoptery (the study of butterflies).
What draws you to butterflies?
Simone Hébert Allard (Fred Elcheshen)
Nature has always fascinated me. As a very young child, I collected caterpillars and took them for rides in a wagon. As an adult, I endeavoured to figure out how to rear butterflies, and realized how little I knew about them and how interesting they were. What is it like to photograph a butterfly - how do you do it?
Photographing butterflies is difficult; that's why I enlisted over 80 photographers who are already experts in the field (pun intended!). I do have about 10 of my own photos in the book - the key is knowing where and when to find them, having a good macro lens and - mostly - being very patient!What are the challenges?
Butterflies are fickle creatures; when you set out to look for them, there is no guarantee that they will make a command performance. If you go out on a windy, or worse, rainy day, chances are the butterflies are roosting and keeping out of harm's way so you won't see any.
Which is the most difficult butterfly to photograph?
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Bill Dean)
I have not really had enough experience personally to answer that question, but according to the experts, the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is considered to be 'flighty' when sipping nectar on flowers and tends to fly very high up in the trees, making it difficult to photograph.Which butterfly photo are you most proud of capturing and why?
I would say my favourite photo is one I took of a Painted Lady butterfly in Kildonan Park last summer. The photo was sharp and had a good composition, so it did make its way into my book.
How long did it take you to complete this book?
Manitoba Butterflies: A Field Guide (Turnstone Press)
From the very beginning, I would say I have been working on the book for about seven years, but more intensively in the last four years. This includes doing the research and finding all of the photos that I needed (there are two photos of each butterfly species in the wild and its egg, caterpillar and chrysalis).
There are also life-size specimens of each of the 101 species featured in the book; these are professional photos taken of Manitoban Dave Delf's 35-year old butterfly collection. What's your next project on the horizon?
I have two serious upcoming projects; a book about butterflies written for children ages 8-12 in French and a second field guide written in English about the butterflies of Saskatchewan for adults. Simone Hébert Allard launches Manitoba Butterflies: A Field Guide on Wednesday June 19 at 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson Books.
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