Friday, 19 December 2008

New moth book

OK, this is an unusual post in that a) it’s nothing to do with birds, and b) it’s serious! Apologies if that disappoints anyone.

I received my copy of Chris Manley’s new book ‘British Moths and Butterflies’ today. This 350 page paperback, published by A&C Black, contains around 2400 photos of some 850 species of macro moth, 74 butterflies and an impressive 500 micro moths (about a third of the British total). There are also photos of larvae, pupae and eggs covering 314 species. All the images are of living insects photographed in their natural resting positions.

I wouldn’t normally plug a book that I’d had any involvement with, but my contribution to this one was so insignificant (just the two photos of the Concolorous on page 242) that I can honestly say I’m being completely unbiased in recommending it. If you have any interest at all in moths, this book is essential. And if you aren’t interested in moths, buy it to see what you’re missing! I think it’s officially out early next year.

A&C Black are to be congratulated for having the courage to produce a book on Lepidoptera which is mainly concerned with moths rather than the more popular butterflies. A few years ago I tried to interest Dorling Kindersley in something similar, only to be told ‘we don’t think there is a market for such a book.’ Well, DK were wrong, and I’m sure that ‘Manley’ will now become a classic to rank alongside ‘Townsend, Waring & Lewington’ and ‘Skinner’. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it’s possibly even more important than either of those two books because of the coverage it gives to the much neglected micros.

15 comments:

beast said...

Definitely give that book a look Andy. Nice to see the micro's gettin a look in!
[reckon more people might get into the micro's? if they'd adopt 'proper' names for 'em....bit of an 'old chesnut' that one....good name for a moth though].

Still ain't seen a Deathshead yet....[moth-er fucker]...shuda twitched one years ago...

Andy Mackay said...

I'd personally rather they didn't adopt English names for the micros - I spent years learning the scientific names, and I'm too old to learn a load of new ones now!!

The only Death's Head I've ever seen was in a jam jar in the Porthcressa years ago. Difficult one to catch up with - I'll let you know if I ever get one in my garden trap!

beast said...

Andy......how many uk micro's are there? [can't find me relevant books n can't be bothered to google it.....i know it's more than one but less than 50 million].

I'm guessing that learning uk bird latin names is a piece of piss by comparison? Do you think most birders these days bother with latin? Actually it's interesting stuff when you get into the 'origins'...[to me it is anyways]. Melanocephala...black hat n all that..[think thats the loose translation...need to brush up a bit...sure someone will correct me if i'm wrong]!

As for Deaths Heads....one day...love to come across one meself...

['come across one' don't mean 'stumbled on a stash'....actually...maybe it does]!

Jeff Higgott said...

sometimes it is easier not spend too much time looking into the origins of scientific names. If I remember right Mediterranean Gull is 'Larus melanocephalus', which means Black-headed Gull; Black-headed Gull is 'Larus ridibundus', which means Laughing Gull; Laughing Gull is 'Larus atricilla', which means Black-tailed Gull - and Black-tailed Gull is something different entirely.

beast said...

Jeff...

I'm sure it is 'easier' not to look into the origins of latin! I really know fuck all about latin [apart from birds...and then only a bit]...just find it interesting.

ps......ain't seen you in a while...[hope u is well]..if my addled head remembers correctly the last time i saw you was at Lou Reed concert at Demontfort Hall..great gig...he's always good..

[harundinaceus= 'like a reed]..

Regards....Beast

Skev said...

Your two photos is a significantly bigger contribution than mine - buggers only had to ask.
Will be getting this in due course - usually pick up some book tokens at Christmas from somewhere.
As for names, I'm also happy to stick with latin where no vernacular exists, and equally happy to go with the vernacular where it does. The only thing that pisses me of with the latin names is the frequency that they change.

Andy Mackay said...

Mark - most of the photos in the book are Chris Manley's own images, but he went through UK Moths and contacted people who had species he hadn't got (e.g. Concolorous). The micros were then added as an afterthought - he did send me a list of ones they hadn't got, but I never got round to sending him any. They weren't paying for them of course - just a free copy of the book.

Colin - there are about 1500 micros in the UK, so this book covers about a third of them. I haven't been through it in detail, but it seems to include most of the species the average 'moth-er' is likely to come across and be able to identify without dissecting them.

beast said...

Andy....that sounds pretty good about the micro's....not into the id of 'em by stickin a twig up their backsides or wotever you 'serious' guys do!
I'm just a part time 'moth-er-focker' as you know but i do greatly enjoy the amazing variety of species.
[Under-rated micro's]

Out of interest...how much is this new book? [or is it on the cover n i just ain't noticed]...

Andy Mackay said...

RRP is £19.99. Amazon have got it for £13.99 though (bargain!), and contrary to what I said in the original post it is available now.

thorntonmothman said...

I'm not generally a fan of photogrpahic guides but for the price it's got to be worth having. His Moths of Trigon book isn't essential reading but well worth a look as a 'coffee table' type book. A couple of points. Firstly, Andy, if you had a Death's Head in your garden trap I suspect you'd tell the world not just beast. Secondly, Skev, can you still get book tokens?

Andy Mackay said...

I'm not a fan of photographic guides for birds, but for moths I do think it's essential to have images of real insects (whether live or dead) as well as paintings for identification.

Especially with micros, sometimes it's a matter of comparing the moth you're trying to i.d. with a photo literally scale for scale, and no matter how good an illustration is, it's still just an illustration rather than the real thing.

Many's the time I've struggled to identify a micro from the illustrations in MBGBI (and not just the shit ones in volumes 1 & 2), and then found it easily by looking through the photos on UK Moths!

Skev said...

Russ - the thing for me is that you just can't paint Jizz. A photographic media is always needed if you want to get the real look and feel of Jizz .....
Yes - book tokens in one form or another still available unless they've died during the banking collapse.

John Hague said...

Ordered mine from Amazon at £14.99, still a good price. Problem is your post has probably made it so popular it's temporarily out-of-stock!

John Hague said...

Seems it was only out of stock for a few hours as I had an email to say it had been despatched.
Checked out the book in Borders, full price sadly, and it looks excellent. Can't wait to read it while sat on the loo. I find it a most relaxing place to read id articles... or Birding World, I can almost get through this in one shitting these days.

John Judge said...

I was wondering if Andy was on commission from Amazon ;-) Got mine from there for £13.99 John you woz robbed! Arrived yesterday and looks good for all those little jobs I never bothered to pot up and look at as never had a book for them.