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Field Guides & Natural History  Insects & other Invertebrates  Insects  Butterflies & Moths (Lepidoptera)

Moths of Great Britain and Ireland A Field Guide to All the Macromoths

Field / Identification Guide
By: Sean Clancy(Author), Morten Top-Jensen(Author), Michael Fibiger(Author), Mark S Parsons(Foreword By)
640 pages, 60 colour plates, 1200 colour photos, 1 b/w illustration
Moths of Great Britain and Ireland
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  • Moths of Great Britain and Ireland ISBN: 9788799351244 Paperback waterproof PVC cover Jun 2012 In stock
Price: £53.99
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About this book

Moths of Great Britain and Ireland contains all the 874 species of macromoth to have occurred naturally in Britain and Ireland. They are listed in a new systematic order and classified using the most recent hierarchy and nomenclature that have now been widely accepted and adopted throughout mainland Europe. Several new species are listed as British either due to recent taxonomic changes, studies of internal structures, or analysis of historic records.

All species are shown in their natural resting position using 1200 photographs, thus making it possible to make an accurate determination in the field to species level of a vast majority of the British macromoths. A selection of photographs of distinctive larvae are also included. Furthermore all listed species have been shown as mounted specimens in their natural size on 60 colour plates in the back of Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, in order to allow direct size and structural comparison between species, and show salient features that are not visible in the natural resting posture.

The species texts describe the diagnostic external characters, the possibilities for confusion, current flight times, larval foodplants, life-cycle strategy, up-to-date distribution and frequency summaries, and individual record details of the scarcer species.

A new and user-friendly field guide that brings the identification and classification of all Britain's macromoths into the 21st century and offers the moth recorder a unique combination of both beautiful and functional images of each species alongside contemporary, detailed species accounts.

Customer Reviews


Sean Clancy was born 30 April 1963 and educated at Alleyn’s School, Dulwich until 1980. Here a lifelong interest in natural history became focussed on moths during Natural History Society trips to Spurn Head in Yorkshire where a moth-trap was operated (and is to this day). Entomology was mainly confined to an amateur activity for the following years with the raising of a family taking precedent, although he travelled extensively throughout Britain in search of unusual species (and family holidays were usually organised around this goal!).

In 1997 he co-founded Atropos magazine, for which he still holds the role of Assistant Editor and writes regular articles. He is a regular contributor to the Entomologists' Record and has been the National Migrant Lepidoptera Recorder since 2002, writing the comprehensive annual immigrant Lepidoptera report for that journal. Since 2000 he has worked under contract as a freelance ecologist specialising in the Lepidoptera, particularly the monitoring of endangered species and their habitat. He is currently also working on a field guide to the pyraloid moths due to be published later in 2012.

Morten Top-Jensen was born 27 March 1956 and educated at teacher training college Emdrupborg Seminarium until 1982. He worked as a teacher (1982–2004) and has held the post of Vice Principal at a private school from 2005, before starting his own publishing company (Bug-Book Publishing) at the end of 2009.

A member of the Board of Directors at the experience centre Natur Bornholm since 2001, and a member of the Board of Directors in the Natural Historical Society on Bornholm since 2001. Founder and Chief Editor of the yearly magazine Natur på Bornholm since 2002. He has also been a member of the Entomological Scientific Committee of Denmark (EFU) since2007, and is an accomplished, published nature photographer. He is a regular writer and lecturer on Lepidoptera and other insect groups, and the special nature on Bornholm, as well as a supplier of monthly nature programmes for a television channel on Bornholm.

Michael Fibiger was born 29 June 1945 and educated at teacher training college HellerupSeminarium until 1970, Master of Psychology 1976 (Copenhagen University). He worked until his death as a private practicing clinical psychologist. A member of the Board of Directors in the Lepidopterological Society 1968-1973, member of the Board of Directors in the Entomological Society, Copenhagen from 1973 (from 2000 as chairman). He held the role of Vice President for Societas Europaeae Lepidopterologica from 1990 to 2002. He authored 16 books on moths as well as a large number of popular and scientific articles; he was also the Chief Editor and one of the main authors of the book series Noctuidae Europaeae and Noctuidae Sibiricae. Michael died after a protracted fight against cancer on 16 February 2011.

Field / Identification Guide
By: Sean Clancy(Author), Morten Top-Jensen(Author), Michael Fibiger(Author), Mark S Parsons(Foreword By)
640 pages, 60 colour plates, 1200 colour photos, 1 b/w illustration
Media reviews

"This tome has the novel approach (for this country) of providing photographs of each species in natural resting posture, along with the more traditional presentation of wings spread (which helps to show hindwing characters), whilst retaining an accessible and compact format and incorporating recent advances in knowledge. This richly illustrated publication can only further stimulate interest in this fascinating, rewarding and accessible group of insects."
- Mark Parsons, Head of Moth Conservation, Butterfly Conservation, April 2012


"In the three years since the 2nd edition of Waring, Townsend and Lewington's innovative Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, there have been at least another six major national moth titles appearing on our bookshelves, all with their own merits and proven usefulness. So is this latest one the 'magnificent seventh'?

This chunky 640-page tome sets out with the main aim of 'moulding' two aspects of moth illustration inside one cover, hoping to simplify larger moth identification. It uses the most recent European-accepted taxonomic hierarchy, systematic order and nomenclature for the 874 species that have occurred naturally in our islands. It highlights several 'new' species that have either occurred here for the first time in recent years or have been proposed as species splits following anatomical, internal structural, ecological and/or geographical study. The foreword by Mark Parsons describes how moth populations have changed dramatically since 2000 and how their public profile and wider interest has increased, due in part to a wealth of new publications. He welcomes this one as providing another tool, which should help make the importance of accurate moth recording an easier task.

The introduction describes why and how the book was written. A traditional line-drawn diagram of a typical wing-spread macromoth is labelled with a range of external anatomical terms with which all recorders are encouraged to become familiar. A section outlines sampling methods and the value of moth recording and concludes with personal acknowledgements, a brief bibliography and notes on the individual authors. The species accounts are dealt with family by family. Each of these is preceded by the respective structural and biological traits. Each species has an index-linked number, specific to the order of appearance in this book and with no connection to the abandoned Bradley and Fletcher British Checklist number (which will be very soon superseded with a new national checklist). The scientific name header is followed by the English name. A very concise written description presents the diagnostic feature(s), which can usually be seen on the accompanying colour image of a naturally resting adult. Some species have more than one image to illustrate different forms or individual variation. The texts include differences from confusion species, current flight periods, larval food-plants, life-cycle strategy, up-to-date distribution and frequency summaries with individual details of the rarer immigrant species. Images of distinctive larvae are included for some species. Two species are dealt with on each page.

Sixty colour plates follow the same species order exhibiting life-size, well-arranged, good-condition mounted specimens of all 874 species. On this occasion the colour reproduction looks excellent – not always the case when collection material has been portrayed in other volumes. These are very useful, as some described diagnostic features are either difficult or impossible to see on the live photographs in the previous section.

Most of the photographs in the species accounts section and the majority of mounted specimens portray British material. Where they do not, careful consideration was taken to use those from European sources that involve moths with linear 'within-their-range' appearance. The images are on the whole very good quality, often in situ poses with obvious effort in attempting to capture jizz as well as colour and form. As with all living animal subject photographs, there are odd occasions when a moth may be slightly out of focus, at an awkward angle or not lit to the best degree. As in real life, a very small number of moths are slightly worn and all of these few minor negatives will be appreciated by anybody that has tried to take decent shots of moths. The authors have tried to outline the current practical thinking on proposals for two very recent splits: dusky dart and fused burnished brass. Fir carpet and maize wainscot, which both arrived in Britain during the autumn of 2011, are also included. The black witch's inclusion is a presumably a logistical anomaly that at least makes us newcomers aware of the one old record!

A useful section covering 19 species pairs or trios where visual identification has been traditionally considered tricky, or not straightforward, follow line drawings first produced in Skinner (2009). Appendix 1 is a table of all other species that have recorded as having occurred in Britain but under imported, known ship-assisted or introduced circumstances, and includes a few new additions. Appendix 2 brings us up to date with a table of species previously listed as having occurred in Britain for which there is now no firm evidence. Appendix 3 lists (with some images) 11 species either resident or having occurred on the Channel Islands but not yet in the British Isles. Appendix 4 is a useful systematically arranged list of Red Data, Nationally Notable and UK BAP species showing the current categories. Full indexes of the most recent scientific names, species names and English names conclude the book.

The book is a softback, with good-quality slightly glossy pages, and is equipped with a clear, protective cover to facilitate use outdoors. The standard price is £54; this may be on the expensive side, but remember the wealth of information collated within it. Who will buy the book? Keener lepidopterists who wish to keep abreast with all the latest taxonomic updates and cutting-edge identification tips will have either bought it already or will be thinking that somebody close to their heart may get it for them for Christmas. To have both a considerable photographic library and the standard set plates inside one cover that will fit into a small bag or ample pocket is a British first. I particularly value the detailed modern analysis of those species listed in Appendixes 1 and 2. I can also see myself returning to those many images in the main section when a confusing live moth is in hand which does not quite fit the bill!"

- Steve Whitehouse,, Tuesday 16th October 2012

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