Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland


  • Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by Martin Townsend and Paul Waring (second edition, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2019).
  • 176 pages, 1,700 colour illustrations.
  • ISBN 9781472957283. Spiralbound, £18.99.
  • Bookshop from £16.99

On picking up the new edition of this book the first impression, compared to all the other moth guides, was how compact and light it was. Could such a small slim volume still be truly comprehensive and hold enough detail to make it a practicable field guide?

The book is clearly stated to be a lightweight field edition of the much heavier Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by the same authors. It comes in at about a third of the weight of the more comprehensive volume.
The plates follow the format of its larger cousin and show the moths life size and in natural resting position. The artwork is of the superb quality we have come to expect from Richard Lewington. The full guide has the plates grouped together in the middle of the book, separate from the text. This is not ideal as it often requires trying to keep two pages open at the same time which is never easy in the field, particularly with a paperback book that will not lie flat when open. However, this neat little volume has the text on the facing page and is spiralbound, so will naturally lie flat when open.

There is one negative, and that is that the facing-page text is necessarily limited by space so is brief and lacks any range maps. However, most people using this book will have the larger volume or another extensive guide to use as a reference when at home.

With the excellent illustrations and short but succinct text this is certainly adequate for the identification of most species in the field. Even for the experienced moth enthusiast this volume will prove an invaluable field companion. Its lightness and usability, particularly with the spiral binding, will make it many friends.

Over the last decade the study of moths has moved from being a niche activity to very much part of the mainstream, and at under £20 this book will make a first step for many birders into the fascinating world of moth ID. I have no hesitation in recommending this excellent little book to both established moth-ers and beginners alike.

Written by: Neil Bowman