Moths have never enjoyed the easy popularity of butterflies, their more showy daytime cousins, yet they repay closer study. Their subtle shapes and patterns are often beautiful, making butterflies seem garish in comparison. Their life histories are hugely varied, and often fascinating. And whereas many British butterflies have declined due to loss of habitat, our moths are doing comparatively well and Britain is currently gaining species, perhaps as a result of global warming.
In Victorian times, moths were very popular with collectors, and rarities sold at auction for hefty sums. This fashion has faded, but recently there has been a new upsurge of interest. Fortunately, today's enthusiast prefers to study and enjoy live moths in their natural habitat, rather than gloat over rows of dead, dried specimens. Ecology and conservation are now the keynotes, with modern colour photography providing the permanent record of exciting finds.
While some excellent identification guides help observers to name the species they find, there are no books about 'mothing". This book fills that gap. There are sections on finding moths in the daytime, and at night when they visit natural attractions such as sallow catkins and overripe blackberries. The responsible use of light traps is also covered. Most moths are easily bred in captivity, and their early stages are often fascinating. Successful techniques for finding and rearing caterpillars (almost a hobby in itself) are provided. Other chapters show how to attract moths to the garden, give expert hints on photographic techniques, and deal with the handling and presentation of scientific data.
However, this is no dry academic tome. Roy Leverton conveys his lifelong enthusiasm for moths in an immensely readable, easy-going style, while the text is liberally illustrated with line drawings and the authors own superb photographs of living moths.