British Moths: A Gateway Guide


James Lowen
Bloomsbury Wildlife, £16.99

This well-thought-out guide was written by someone who was touched by the excitement of a chance encounter with a Poplar Hawk-moth. James Lowen is a relative newcomer to Lepidoptera but he has discovered a new dimension to enthuse over in his natural history writing. His passion has also extended into the production of his book ‘Much Ado About Mothing’.

This beginner’s guide presents to readers of all generations, 350 of more than 2,500 moth species that can be found on the British Isles. The introduction eases us into the joy of mothing, explaining how we can observe moths, capturing with sweep nets or with the moth traps.

Adult moth body parts are detailed on clearly labelled images and these terms are used extensively within the ‘Species Accounts’. The sequence of species within this guide abandons the taxonomic regulations and instead adopts the seasons for direction. Within each season it is chronological appearance that decides the order, and any similar looking species within the time scales are grouped together, for example ‘Strongly Patterned Moths of Early Spring’.

This ring-bound book has coloured margins to identify the seasons and the double pages have quality photographs on the right, and a clear description of the species on the left-hand side. The photographs have key labels which relate to a specific feature within the description, helping with the accuracy of identification.

The author encourages enthusiasts to contribute to the collective knowledge of moths by submitting sightings to both local and national databases, indeed any citizen science projects or similar would benefit from this user-friendly text.

Jean Wilson MBE CBiol FRSB