Friday, 27 September 2013

Book review: Britain's Day-flying Moths by David Newland, Robert Still, & Andy Swash

Britain's Day-flying Moths: A Field Guide to the Day-flying Moths of Britain and Ireland

David Newland, Robert Still, & Andy Swash
Technical Advice by Mark Parsons
Princeton University Press WILDGuides | 2013
224 pp. | 15 x 21 cm | 200+ colour photos. 155 colour distribution maps
Paperback  | £17.95 / $29.95 | ISBN: 9780691158327

Roughly 60 species of butterfly and about the same number of dragonflies are found in the UK. These two groups of insects have become popular targets for study by amateur naturalists in recent years - not least by birders, lured by anything that can regarded as an honorary bird. While out studying these groups, the observer is bound to come across day-flying moths - if only a Six-spot Burnet or Silver-Y - and with perseverance many more species will be encountered. Indeed, Butterfly Conservation's ever more popular annual Big Butterfly Count asks observers to record day-flying moths as well as butterflies. Since there are only about twice as many day-flying moths as butterflies, they are a logical progression for the birder-turned-entomologist.

Butterflies and dragonflies are well-served by field guides, including companion guides Britain's Butterflies and Britain's Dragonflies in the same series, and with the appearance of the magnificent Britain's Hoverflies earlier this year, WILDGuides have most of the easily-identifiable diurnal insects covered. Up until now identifying day-flying moths has required the use of detailed field guides like  the Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland and its companion Field Guide to the Micro-Moths of Great Britain and Ireland - and finding the relatively small number of day-flying moths amongst the 900 species of macro-moth or 1,000+ species of micro-moth in these books might be a challenge. Given the numbers, they could be easily covered by a smaller field guide. Enter Britain's Day-Flying Moths...

There is no hard-and-fast definition of a day-flying moth. All moths can fly by day, but some of them do it more frequently than others, or or more easily disturbed from their resting places, while a number of species are clearly diurnal. In all, some 133 species of macro-moth are generally considered to be day-flyers, with an additional 22 micro-moths adding to the list. All of them are covered by this guide. The format of the book follows previous WILDGuides publications. All relevant information is to be found on a single page, images are all high-quality photographs and supporting data is accurate and concise. A line on the top-left hand corner of each page indicates the true length of the forewing. The maps are a useful feature - sufficiently large to allow resolution of distributions at local scales. As with other WILDGuides, there is attention to conservation status: species that are Nationally Rare, Nationally Scarce, UK BAP species and those that appear in the British Red Data Book are clearly indicated. An annotated checklist at the end of the book provides tabulated information on ecology and conservation status.

As with other WILDGuides publications, profits finance an appropriate conservation organisation: in this case Butterfly Conservation.

Another great addition to the field naturalist's arsenal. Highly recommended!


Ball, S. & Morris, R. (2013) Britain's hoverflies: an introduction to the hoverflies of Britain. WILDGuides / Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ. 296 pp.

Newland, D. & Still, R. (2010) Britain's butterflies: a field guide to the butterflies of Britain and Ireland (2nd edition). WILDGuides / Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ. 224 pp.

Smallshire, D. & Swash, A. (2010) Britain's dragonflies: a field guide to the damselflies and dragonflies of Britain and Ireland (2nd edition). WILDGuides / Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ. 208 pp.

Sterling, P., Parsons, M. & Lewington, R. (2012) Field guide to the micro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing: Gillingham, Dorset. 416 pp.

Waring, P., Townsend, M. & Lewington, R. (2009) Field guide to the moths of Great Britain and Ireland (2nd edition). British Wildlife Publishing: Gillingham, Dorset. 444 pp.

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