Butterflies and Moths
I so wish I could remember the species better, there should be some hope for me with the names of the British Butterflies, there are only around 59 species, but the Moths, I have to contend with over 2500 of those!
Time for a Field Guide….
As usual, Collins have published cutting edge guides. I am not sure their Caterpillars volume should be taken on a dedicated nature ramble but the Butterflies guide with superlative illustrations by one of, if not the most, proficient, insect artists in the country, covers 440 species, which is just about all of those to be found in Britain & Europe.
Field Guides are all well and good, but a book on the natural history of our beloved species is what is required to gain a greater understanding of their biology and evolution. The Field Guides are good, but with so many species to pack in, any information on each species is very limited as a result.
The first book I purchased on the natural history of butterflies was a classic in literature- number one in the New Naturalist series, E.B.Ford’s Butterflies which was first published in 1945. OK, so a lot has been learnt since Ford and his contemporaries did their groundbreaking work, but the great majority of the information in the volume still holds up today as accessible, informative text.
Both John Feltwell and Marks Young’s volumes, shown above, cover breeding, feeding, distribution and life history. I feel that the Poyser Natural History has the edge over the Facts on File book, but that befits such a large group, many of which are rarely seen as they are nocturnal. As homage to that, this is the only photograph I have taken of books from my shelves, at night. In the very garden where I have hung strips of cloth covered with home brewed pulpy mixes of sweet smelling fruit, later to venture out under cover of darkness to see what had descended on them on warm summer nights. Such great fun, why don’t I do it still?
Books from my shelves:
The Natural History of Moths, Poyser Natural History, Mark Young. T & A D Poyser, 1997. ISBN 0 85661 103 4
The Natural History of Butterflies, John Feltwell. Facts on File, 1986. ISBN 0 8160 1561 9
Butterflies of Britain & Europe, Collins Field Guide. Tom Tolman, illustrations by Richard Lewington. Harper Collins, 1997. ISBN 0 00 219992 0
Caterpillars of Britain & Europe, Collins Field Guide. D.J. Carter, B. Hargreaves. Harper Collins, 1994 reprint with corrections. ISBN 0 00 219080 X