The illustrations in this book were created over two hundred years ago. They are the work of artist-naturalist John Abbot. Abbot was very prolific, but only one published book gave him credit in the title; it is from that book that the illustrations are borrowed: The natural history of the rarer lepidoterous insects of Georgia. Including their systematic characters, the particulars of their several metamorphoses, and the plants on which they feed. Collected from the observation of Mr. John Abbot, many years resident in that country (London: printed by T. Bensley, for Sir James Edward Smith, 1797). The illustrations appear here courtesy of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries. The frontispiece appears courtesy of Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.
It is obvious from Abbot’s illustrations that he, too, was a lover of trees and had an interest in the organisms that lived among them. In this book, I discuss many tree species— and their animal partners— that Abbot never illustrated; conversely, Abbot painted many tree species and insects that I did not write about. The Abbot illustrations show some of the trees discussed in the text, but primarily they are here to stir the senses, to add another layer of wonder, and to show that I have barely begun to tell all there is to know of a forest. Readers wanting contemporary images of any of the tree species I write about may consult any common field guide to trees.