Both myself and my friend Duncan enjoy moths almost as equally as each other, specifically on the traditional "moth day" that is Sunday. This book helps us to enjoy them even more with beautiful photography and line drawings of the moths and their families, so we can identify the species as we feel pleasure.
I especially liked the chapter on how the moths can be lured into capturing jars, with the use of pudding. The book specifically states that creamed rice pudding is the most effective. And indeed I find that it is. I have managed to conclude that the Psygomisnus Trapintoil moth is the most receptive.
There is a lot of science involved within the middle pages of this reference guide, but it was easily broken down into everyday language, so even Duncan and I could enjoy and understand it.
It is recommended for people who frequently visit the dentist and struggle to read the provided magazines and pamphlets. Every dentistry establishment should own one. Pleasure for all!
on 24 December 2009
Roy Leverton is revered throughout the moth world and is quite righly considered a behe"moth" in his field.
Leverton manages to tease and engage the reader on each and every page, leaving no stone unturned.
However, the book does expose a certain fragility to Leverton in his quest for perfection, which some readers may find hard to relate with.
By exposing his soul on each page, Leverton allows the read to be at one with the Moth. This is no easy task for such a deeply serious, important and defining work.
To conclude, I would recommend Enjoying Moth's to anyone with a keen interest in the world around us.
Leverton's vunerablity and brutish determination are constant themes throughout that bring the reader closer to Enjoying Moths than ever before.
on 2 December 2010
"Enjoying moths" by Roy Leverton may the best introduction to moths and "mothing" currently on the market. Leverton is an amateur naturalist who has been fascinated by moths ever since his childhood (curiously, he grew up in a heavily industrialized and polluted city in Britain). He is also on a first name basis with Mark Young, the scientist who wrote another book published in this series, "The Natural History of Moths". This, plus a certain self-ironic attitude towards the mothing subculture, makes him an excellent choice for writing an introduction to moths.
It should be noted that "Enjoying moths" is mostly about British moths. Still, it could be interesting even for foreign readers. The book is illustrated with lage colour photographs of moths and their caterpillars, taken by the author himself. It covers all aspects of the subject: identification, collecting, where to find moths, their life cycle, moth photography, rearing moths in captivity, and the conservation of moths. Leverton also attempts to answer the perennial question "What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth?". (Not much, it turns out. Indeed, the moth on the front cover looks like a butterfly!)
The chapters on where and how to find moths are pretty detailed. For instance, we learn that blackberries, ivy bloom, honeydew, campions and sallow blossom are favourite moth haunts. Find the blackberry bush, spot the moth. Easy. We also get to know that many moths are actually diurnal, or at least partially so, and some can be found even in cities (at least British ones). Leverton also reveals a few curious tricks of the trade. Apparently, moths are drawn to a mixture of beer, treacle and brown sugar, which can be applied to tree trunks, wooden poles, and so on. The technique is known as "sugaring". Another beverage-linked way of attracting moths is "wine roping": thick ropes are soaked with a mixture of sugar and cheap red wine (Rosita?), and the ropes are then hanged on suitable places, for instance low tree branches. But, of course, the most common way of catching moths is by light traps...
The most entertaining pieces of information in the book are about the mothing subculture. There isn't a specific chapter on it, but the subject keeps popping up here and there. Leverton mentions that some people have as a sick hobby to overturn long-established scientific names by sifting through old natural history magazines. According to the principles of scientific nomenclature, the oldest name has precedence, so if you can find a long forgotten Latin name of a certain moth from the time of the Napoleonic Wars, you might create havoc in the entire system of moth classification! He also reveals that the English names of many moths aren't taken seriously by hard-boiled moth experts, since the names often sound very strange: The Uncertain, Heart and Dart, Merveille du Jour, Creamspot Tiger or The Flame. (My favourite moth name, not mentioned by the author, is Setaceous Hebrew Character. Come again?) Names like these were often given to the moths by enthusiastic collectors working the British countryside over a century ago. There also used to be unscrupulous moth dealers, who imported exotic moths, and then sold them to unsuspecting collectors, claiming the rarities had been caught on British soil. Some old lists of which moth species have been found in Britain might therefore be incorrect. During his discussion of "sugaring", Leverton writes that many moth collectors have secret recipes for how to make the sugar-beer mixture as potent as possible. Some add rum, which is said to make the moths quite literally drunk! The best beer is supposed to be Newcastle Brown Ale (which apparently doesn't make the moths tipsy.) The author also admits that he has on occasion consumed the sugaring mixture himself, when he felt really hungry after a long nights walk in the woods. Is that why he prefers Newcastle?
Finally, a few observations on what this book is not. It's not a field guide to moths, although it does mention the most conspicuous families and how to tell them apart. In fact, the book constantly emphasizes how difficult it is to identify moths. Many moths are so variable that specimens found on the same tree look like several different species. Nor is it a book for the general reader. It's not difficult to read (quite the contrary), but it's so filled with esoteric facts about moths from page one, that you have to be very interested in the subject before even picking it up. If your interest in moths is only casual, you might be bored pretty quickly.
But if you are a budding little mothman, I'm sure you will enjoy the ride!