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Butterflies and Moths: Useful Books


Books on Butterflies

David Newland, Rob Still, David Tomlinson and Andy Swash (2010). Britain's Butterflies: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland. WildGuides. ISBN 9781903657300.

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Richard Lewington (2003). Pocket Guide to Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing ISBN 0953139913

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Jeremy Thomas and Richard Lewington (2010). The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland. WildGuides. ISBN 9780956490209

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Books on Moths

Emley, DW and Warren, RG (2000) The Larger Moths of Staffordshire Staffordshire Ecological Record Publication No. 16. ISBN 1-874414-20-3.

This has distribution data and maps for all the macros recorded up to 2000. It is now out of print but can be downloaded here
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Emley, DW (2014) The Smaller Moths of Staffordshire Updated and Revised Edition Staffordshire Biological Recording Scheme Publication No. 22. ISBN 978-1-910434-00-0.

This is completely updated edition based on RG Warren's 1988 book, but including details of species seen in the subsequent 25 years. Download a copy here.
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Warren, RG (1988) The Smaller Moths of Staffordshire Staffordshire Biological Recording Scheme Publication No. 13

This is a facsimile, scanned in (with permission) and re-set by Dave Emley. The content is unchanged from the original as is the nomenclature. Download a copy here.
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Provisional Atlas of the UK's Larger Moths

The first national distribution maps for 30 years have been produced by the Moths Count project.
Available from Butterfly Conservation.
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Waring, P and Townsend, M. (2003) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland British Wildlife Publishing. ISBN 0-9531399-1-3

The main identification guide to macro moths and the first to illustrate them in their natural resting positions.
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Sterling, P. and Parsons, M. (2012) Field Guide to the Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. ISBN 978-0-9564902-1-6

The first field guide to illustrate comprehensively the micro lepidoptera in their resting positions.
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Clancy, S. Top-Jensen, M. and Fibiger, M. (2012) Moths of Great Britain and Ireland; a Field Guide to all macro moths. ISBN 978-89-993512-4-4

A photographic guide showing moths at rest and also as set specimens.
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Manley, C. British Moths and Butterflies - A photographic guide A & C Black, London. ISBN-13: 9781472907707

Covers 2147 species including 871 macros and 1276 micros and many larvae. Illustrated with excellent colour photographs. A good companion to Waring and Townsend's and Sterling and Parson's books.
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Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification guide to moths of the British Isles Viking. ISBN 0-670-80354-5

Contains photographs of set specimens of all the macro moths. Beginners might find this difficult to use with live specimens but it was the "bible" until Waring came out.
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Heath, J. (Ed.) The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland 10vol. Harley Books

The ultimate reference work but 3 volumes are yet to appear. So far, most of the micros are covered except the pyralids, plume moths and tortix moths. All species are illustrated as set specimens.
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Goater, B. (1986) British Pyralid Moths Harley Books. ISBN 0-946589-08-9

Illustrates all the pyralid moths as set specimens and as such is a companion to Skinner.
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Riley, M and Prior, P. (2003) British and Irish Pug Moths – a guide to their identification and biology Harley Books. ISBN 0-946589-51-8

Of the macros, the pugs cause more headaches than most other species when it comes to identification. This volume illustrates them all as both set specimens and as live insects at rest. The species are grouped by common features and line drawings highlight differences in wing markings.
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Hart, C. (2011). British Plume Moths. ISBN 978-1-899935-06-2

The first book for many years to illustrate and describe all the plume moths.
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Clifton, J. and Wheeler, J. (2010) Bird-dropping Tortrix Moths of the British Isles. A Field Guide to the Bird-dropping Mimics Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies. ISBN 978-0-9568352-0-8.

This guide shows classic examples of bird-dropping mimics, such as the Apotomis, Hedya and Epinotia and some of the cryptic black and white cochylids. The moths are shown in their resting position, alongside a set specimen, with a brief account giving distinguishing features and use of coloured pointers to highlight the critical areas in a user friendly way. Maps show Vice-county distribution across the British Isles, alongside seasonal flight graphs and life size representations of each species, to aid identification.
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Porter, J. (1997) The colour identification guide to caterpillars of the British Isles Viking. ISBN 0-670-87509-0. See Amazon.

Illustrates for the first time the caterpillars of all the macros and the butterflies using photographs.
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The following are also important:

Agassiz, D. et al (1981) An Identification Guide to British Pugs British Entomological and Natural History Society.

This is now superceded by Riley but still has useful information.

South, R. The Moths of the British Isles 2 vol. Warne. ISBN 0-232-0001-7

For many years the "bible" for lepidopterists. It still has useful information though the standard of illustrations, particularly in later editions, is poor. All species are illustrated as set specimens.

Bradley, J.D., Tremewan, W.G. and Smith, A. (1973) British Tortricoid Moths 2 vol. Ray Society. ISBN 0-903874-01-6

A magnificent work illustrating all the tortix species with superb plates. It is unfortunately very expensive and out of print. All species are illustrated as set specimens. This is now available from Pisces Conservation on CD-ROM (ISBN 978-1-904690-12-2)

Bradley, J.D. (1998) Checklist of Lepidoptera recorded from the British Isles. ISBN 0-9532508-0-6

The source of the widely used species codes. It also contains complete synonyms - essential given the changes in nomenclature that have, and are still, taking place!
An online version of this list is available on the Natural History Museum's website, but it does not include the original Bradley & Fletcher species codes.

These books give useful background information

  • Dandy, J.E. (1969) Watsonian Vice-counties of Great Britain Ray Society.
  • Dickson, R. (1976) A Lepidopterist's Handbook Amateur Entomologist Society.
  • Majerus, M.E.N. (2002) Moths. New Naturalist No. 90 HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-220142-9
  • Ford, E.B. (1955) Moths. New Naturalist No. 30 HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-219471-6
  • Young, M. (1997) The Natural History of Moths Poyser. ISBN 0-85661-103-4

Printing of this publication for educational purposes is permitted, provided that copies are not made or distributed for commercial gain, and the title of the publication and its date appear. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission from the Author or Staffordshire Ecological Record.

Created by SER © 2017 The Wolseley Centre, Wolseley Bridge, Stafford. ST17 0WT Last updated 1/03/2016
Operated by: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council