The moth guide has arrived!

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Guess what arrived today? My first copy of the new moth guide! Yaaaaaay!

The books are all printed overseas, and they’re all on a container ship somewhere on the Pacific at the moment, but the printer sends a few copies by air to the publisher so they can review them for quality (and start distributing them to the authors :), etc. This is one of the copies that came by air; the rest will arrive at the publisher’s about a month from now, then will be checked and inventoried and distributed and will be in bookstores maybe the week before release.

So you guys still have to wait. I’m sorry. But I can share with you some peeks at the book in advance! Complete with goofy faces. Because that’s just how excited I am. (Also, forgive the photo quality; these were taken with my webcam.)

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For example. My name! On a book!

Check out the width of that sucker. It’s 1.25 inches thick. That’s 611 pages of amazing mothy goodness.

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And between my fingers there is the species checklist at the back of the book. It’s 38 pages long. That’s a lot of moths, folks! I lost count along the way, but I think we were just a couple species shy of 1500 total in the book. Very close to 2000 images. (Which I clipped out from their backgrounds by hand. Every single one. Whew. Thank goodness they look so good in the book!)

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The title page! I love this photo. It was taken by Dave, in his yard, and was a last-minute addition to the book.

Look! There’s my name again! Also, the map of area covered. Quite a number of the species in the book will be present in other parts of the continent, though, so the guide is potentially useful outside of the range depicted here. You just won’t have the benefit of range maps with the species accounts.

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Here’s the opening page of the How To Use This Book section. All of the sections have full-page images of different species of moths, like this. They’re nearly all Dave’s photos, moths he’s caught and placed on a natural-looking log or branch for photographing, and they look really great. The top of the sections also have those little square photos, also of moths in natural settings. All of them have the species name given, so you know which species the moth is. (This was my mom‘s suggestion. Thanks, Mom. :)

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That’s me! It’s the only photo of a person in the entire guide (no author photos). That’s my blacklight setup from… I think that was taken at my parents’ old house, actually, the place in Halton county where I grew up. I still run blacklight bulbs occasionally, but mostly now I use mercury vapour at home. They don’t make as interesting a photo, though. I’ll probably have both with me on the book tour.

The How To section has information on how to go about attracting and photographing moths as well as the necessary info on how to read and interpret the guide. Also tips on how to start learning to identify moths. It’s relatively short and quick to read, at 18 pages. So I hope you all read it, because I put a lot of time and careful consideration into writing it. :)

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These are the front endpapers. The diagrams are also in the How To section, but because it’s a pain to have to flip through the introduction in order to look up terminology, I requested these be put here at the front, where they’re easy to flip to. On the left are structural terminology, on the right are those for patterns. A number of these get referred to regularly in the text accounts.

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And these are the back endpapers. We don’t have every type of moth displayed here, but we do have many. The idea is a lot of moths can be quickly identified to group by shape/size alone. Some are very distinctive (scoopwings, for instance, or plume moths). So this provides a quick reference to give you a place (or places) to start browsing, if you’re not sure.

All of the measurements in the book are given in millimeters because so  many of the species are so small that inches don’t work well. On the inside of the back cover (barely visible in this photo) there’s a ruler printed with both centimeters/millimeters and inches, so you can quickly look up sizes.

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On to the identification pages!

Each family is headed up with a paragraph describing general family characteristics and often mentions habits and/or host preferences, if there are some that are particular to the group. Where two families are on the same page, as here, the identification plate is separated into two panels.

Although it’s hard to see on this particular page, you’ll notice on the next few there’s a gray silhouette beside one of the images on the plate. This is showing the moth’s approximate size in real life, so you can get an idea how big these things really are.

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One of the things that makes this book unique over the few guides that have come before (besides that they’re all in natural resting poses here; most other guides show pinned/spread moths) is the number of micromoth species we’ve included. These are all the species that come in the first half of taxonomic lists, basically the moth equivalent of non-passerine birds (the first half of a bird field guide, all the birds that don’t sing songs). For the most part they’re small, hence the “micro”.

Not very much is known about most micromoth species, except for a few that are commercial pests (crops/forestry). So there are no range maps for these species. There are, however, flight period bars, those coloured bars beside each species’ name. Under each is a black line that corresponds to the time of year the moth can be found, and the three colours in the bar represent the three seasons of spring, summer and fall, roughly three months each.

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Here’re macromoths – the second half of the taxonomic list, and, for the most part, larger than the micromoths. These ones mostly do all have range maps, information being much easier to come by for these. A large part of the reason for this has simply been the paucity of field guides that include micromoths – hobbyists actually contribute quite a lot of what we know about the distribution and other information for species. Some macromoths are still lacking in this department – for instance, the Obtuse Brocade, here, didn’t have enough information for me to be able to extrapolate a range map with any degree of confidence. Hopefully there will be future editions of the guide, and we’ll be able to create maps for these species then, as more people join the hobby.

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Not the greatest photo, though I blame that mostly on the limitations of the webcam. But trying to point out here the Peterson arrows. It was unfortunate timing, but Dave ended up being away for most of the period when the manuscript was at the stage where we insert the arrows (it wasn’t something that could be planned for, either, really), so I ended up doing this mostly all myself. And let me tell you, on 1500 species, there are a lot of arrows.

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Although there are plenty of species of moth that are so distinct they don’t really need the arrows, there are also lots that look so similar the arrows will be invaluable in helping you separate them out. For instance, the hydriomenas. That face I’m making here? I wore that for about two hours, seriously, as I sorted out specifically which features I should be pointing the arrows at. It involved several emails back and forth with moth expert Chris Schmidt of the Canadian National Collection (he was awesome with his time and expertise – you rock, Chris!), and lots of studying of images he sent me, ones I had, and ones online. As you can tell from this plate and the fact that each species has multiple images, there’s a fair bit of variation. But I finally got it figured out. You lucky souls don’t have to worry about it; the arrows are already there for you. :)

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The timing of the release could hardly be much better – right at the start of the new mothing season! It’s still winter here, but the first moths will be arriving soon – potentially just two weeks from now. That moth I’m pointing to, that’s my bet for first of the year for me – Morrison’s Sallow. All of the species on this page are contenders for first-of-season, though. (That’s my you-can-bet-on-it face, which actually works better when you can see me nodding knowingly.)

So there you go! A quick preview of the new field guide to moths. I honestly can’t wait till the release date (April 17! Two months!) so all of you can get your hands on a copy, too, because it looks great. Dave and I are both really happy with how it turned out, and I hope you will be, too.

You can currently preorder the guide from most retailers (online, though I think if you go into your local indie bookstore they’ll take orders, too…). If you want a signed copy, there are buttons on my sidebar or on this page where you can order one directly from me.

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33 responses to “The moth guide has arrived!

  1. Oh my gosh. What a beautiful book. Thank you so much for the incredible amount of effort it must have required. I can’t wait to own a copy.

    Congratulations!

  2. this was a fabulous sneak peek! can’t wait for my signed copy to arrive. after following your writing and detail for so long, i know i’m in for a real treat!

  3. What an amazing moment, Seabrooke! Many congratulations. The book looks utterly superb.

  4. Yay!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Holy jumping spiders, Seabrooke!!! Congrats :)

  6. Looks great, congratulations!!! I’ll have to get my hands on a copy before the warm weather arrives :)

  7. Jennifer W. Hanson

    Congratulations, and thanks for the sneak peek! It looks great. I’m looking forward to using it in the field. :)

  8. Looks great! I’ll definitely have to add it to my wishlist of nature books.

  9. Wow, so very cool! Congratulations!

  10. Seabrooke, I’m thrilled to read about your new field guide and am grateful to you and David Beadle for your incredible dedication to produce it! Can’t wait to get a copy and spread the news. Word came my way through photographer Steve Gingold in Massachusetts.

    I’m a naturalist, educator, and photographer in Concord, MA and have been collaborating with Sam Jaffe to enlighten the public about butterfly/moth diversity in Massachusetts via caterpillars. Sam is the maven of Mass. caterpillars, a gifted teacher, and phenomenal photographer, http://www.pbase.com/spjaffe/massachusetts_caterpillars. My web-blog is http://sense-of-place-concord.blogspot.com/, where I’ll now add your link!

    Congratulations!

  11. Great! Just in time for National Moth Week!

  12. I am SO EXCITED for this book! I’ve always thought moths were cool, but just last year I started trying to identify the moths that come to my porch light (in Connecticut)…. Quite a tricky task, as it turns out! The book looks fantastic, and I plan to put it to very good use. :) Thanks very much for the preview!

  13. Congratulations … and thanks for all your work. Can’t wait to see more of this book and put it to use!

  14. You’ve done yourself proud! Congratulations, Seabrooke. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait ’til my copy arrives!

  15. The guide looks great! Thanks for sharing the details about your book.
    I have been looking for a new moth & butterfly guide but maybe I will have to make due with your moth guide. (I have Le Guide des Pappillons du Québec but it takes me extra effort to use and I’d love wider range descriptions that PQ.)

  16. The “Like” button will only let me “Like” this once. That’s not nearly enough.

  17. Well, your Moth-ers Day gift came early! ;-)

    • There’s Mothing as marvelous as cleverness to cheer the heart. I’ve ordered a copy – it’s coming around April 17th!

  18. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the completion of this book – and it sure looks like it will be a MUST for my field guide collection!

    How do we get an autographed copy?!?!? :D

    • Hi Ellen – if you’d like a signed copy, you can order them through my website. Either click on the PayPal buttons on this page, or use my contact me form if you’d prefer to send a check by snail mail (I’ll email you my mailing address). Or, if you’re able to attend one of the events on my book tour, I’ll be selling/signing books there, too!

  19. Now this is what I call infectious enthusiasm!

  20. OH. MY. WORD. This is what I’ve been looking for! I started this project last summer and have been looking for your book since then: http://www.fieldjournaling.com/tag/under-the-shop-light/

    Off to get one of your signed copies!

  21. This is decidedly the most adorable blog post I will read this month that does not explicitly concern kittens.
    Also! The Guide is SO FREAKING FABULOUS! I was excited before, but now I’m just salivating all over the keyboard. Way to put together a total must-have.

  22. The book looks great! Definitely love the webcam shots!

  23. Laurel Wanrow

    I have to agree with Emily – love the blog post introducing the book! I appreciate your work and organization, since I have been the naturalist who could never resolve those little winged mysteries group participants found during night hikes.

  24. Congratulations, Seabrooke! You look as delighted as we’ll all be when we can hold one, too. I’m off to your order page…

  25. I ordered my copy a while back…but I’m impatient and want it now!!

  26. Pingback: First moth of 2012 | Seabrooke Leckie

  27. Thanks for the comments and congratulations, everyone! It’s been pretty exciting to finally have the book in-hand. I’ve been using it quite a bit in order to look things up or double-check scientific names and things – a lot faster than loading things on the web or digging around the files of my computer. I’ve also used it to go back and ID some tricky species I had unidentified photos of, and have been very pleased with it. I hope you all will be too! Just over a month left till it’s out!

  28. Pingback: Spring Moth « belvédère quelquefois biaisé

  29. Tasha Stephensons, Public Education Specialist, GNWT Environment & Natural Resources, Yellowknife, NT

    This is one of the best book promos I’ve seen – regardless the book itself (which looks fabulous!) I love your facial expressions, Seabrooke!
    Cheers! Happy Mothing Season.

  30. Seabrooke, what a beautiful and unique name. Outstanding book! I just purchased a copy. I live in Akron, Ohio just south of Cleveland. I was wondering whether you will be passing through Ohio this year to do any book signings or participation in moth programs? I would love to attend one of your programs, as would other naturalists from this area.
    Dave Brumfield
    Interpretive Naturalist
    Summit Metro Parks
    dbrumfield@summitmeroparks.org

  31. Mathilda Guzman

    My children needed USCIS N-648 recently and encountered an excellent service that hosts lots of sample forms . If you want USCIS N-648 too , here’s http://goo.gl/J1bqfj

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