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This report is taken from PN Review 169, Volume 32 Number 5, May - June 2006.

Letter from Belgrade James Sutherland-Smith

The routine Indian summer ('babie leto' or 'gossamer' in Slovak, 'Mihalsko leto' or 'Michael's Summer' in Serbian) arrived following a wet June, July and August. A friendship with Milan Djurić, an air traffic controller turned lepidopterist, led me astray during the few weekends Viera and I had to ourselves in Nabokovian pursuit of the beautiful, although armed with a digital camera not a butterfly net and a killing jar. I managed to see and photograph my first Swallowtails, including the Scarce Swallowtail, around the Avala monuments just outside Belgrade. Alas, an unexpected load of examination work at weekends meant that vaguely planned expeditions to the east and to mountains in Montenegro failed to materialise so that I have yet to see the Southern Festoon or the Two-Tailed Pasha. Needless to say Milan produced a pinned specimen of a Peacock Moth, Europe's largest species, when I asked if he'd seen one. He says that some Swallowtails at high altitudes can reach a greater size. He is inclined to be impatient with politically correct restraints on catching butterflies. DDT, not a gentleman with a butterfly net, is more dangerous to the survival of butterflies, he claims. Single-handedly, he is building a database to record the location of Serbia's 192 species. Britain, it seems, has only about seventy butterflies. If Serbia and Montenegro were in the European Union Milan would have little difficulty in gaining support for this project, but at the moment he slowly accumulates data from six other enthusiasts and ...


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