She is interested in insects since childhood. She reconstitutes the cycle of metamorphosis (egg, caterpillar, pupa, butterfly) probably even before Redi publishes the decisive arguments against the spontaneous generation.
Not only the insect is not a creature of the devil, but it is useful. Curiosity towards the Far East had been maintained by De Bry, publisher of images from grand voyages. Europe seeks to imitate the silk culture with local solutions, and Maria Sibylla is one of the first scientists to study the relationship between plants and their pests.
In 1612, De Bry had published a florilegium, twice reissued by his son-in-law. This wording designated the collections of pictures of flowers used as patterns by the embroiderers. For her illustrations, Maria Sibylla Merian reuses the format developed from 1643 by Nicolas Robert in booklets of twelve images each.
From 1677 to 1683, she publishes five booklets, three on flowers and two on caterpillars. In 1680, her husband Johann Andreas Graff publishes a book gathering her 36 flower images, 30 x 19 cm, under the title Neues Blumenbuch. A complete copy colored by hand is estimated £ 200K for sale by Christie's in London on July 15, lot 150.
The three fascicules for the Blumenbuch in their first edition were sold as a single lot for £ 560K including premium by Christie's on 8 June 2011 over a lower estimate of £ 60K.
Shortly before her death in 1717, Maria Sibylla added a third booklet on the caterpillars and their metamorphoses which was immediately collected with the previous two for a Dutch edition. A copy of this book was sold for £ 193K including premium by Christie's on November 23, 2011.