This work holds a unique place in English natural history since it was the first time in which plates were engraved for decorative, rather than purely educational purposes. Little is known of Benjamin Wilkes, other than that he initially trained as a history painter. His career changed irrevocably when he was invited to a meeting of the Aurelian society whereupon he first saw specimens of butterflies and moths. Instantly inspired by their meticulous geometric arrangements and contrasting colours, he realised that it was through the study of nature that he would learn most about 'colour' and 'form', in art. This was to be Wilkes' first of many publications on the subject, and was dedicated to the Aurelian Society. Curiously, the artist was not only keen for buyers to purchase his works, but also that they should come and view his own collection of insects 'against the Horn Tavern in Fleet Street.'