The new Peterson moth guide

Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America - simulated coverNOW AVAILABLE IN BOOKSTORES!

I am no longer selling signed copies from my website (sold out!), but you can still pick the book up from bookstores or online retailers!

More on the book:

The guide covers northeastern North America, the area roughly from New Brunswick south to Virginia and west to Minnesota and Missouri. Nearly 1500 species, illustrated by close to 2000 photographs, are included. About 950 macromoths species and 550 of the smaller micromoths are treated in the guide; the latter group are only skimmed over in Dr. Covell’s book (more on this below). Most macromoth species include range maps rather than range descriptions, flight periods are represented visually for quick reference, and of course, the plates will utilize the Peterson identification system of arrows to highlight key features for confirming the ID of a species.

The book is AVAILABLE NOW, and retails for US$29. It is currently available at many bookstores and most online retailers.

The image below is representative of the plates in the printed guide.

Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America - simulated image

The story behind the book:

The first Peterson Field Guide to Moths was written by Dr. Charles V. Covell, Jr., and published in 1984 by Houghton Mifflin. The guide was discontinued from the Peterson line in 1996, and for many years was very difficult to find a copy of; some used book stores were selling it for as much as $100. In 2005 the book was republished by the Virginia Museum of Natural History, independent of the Peterson series, and will be returning for another reprint this year. It is now possible to purchase a copy of the guide through the VMNH’s website.

Despite that mothing has been a popular pasttime in the United Kingdom for many years now, and several field guides exist to their lepidoptera, it is only just beginning to catch on in North America. For many years Dr. Covell’s guide was the only one easily available that was aimed at the general public. In the last decade a few additional guides, such as Louis Handfield’s Les Papillions du Quebec, or Jerry Powell & Paul Opler’s Moths of Western North America, have been written. However, these guides, including Dr. Covell’s, all present the moths as spread, pinned specimens rather than as photographs of live individuals at rest, as one would encounter them. It can often be difficult to interpret the images on the plates to fit the moth you are trying to identify.

I took up mothing in 2007. Very quickly I became frustrated with the resources available to people wanting to learn to identify moths. I relied heavily on the Moth Photographer’s Group website, which presented photos of live individuals in resting postures. I had the good fortune to be friends with David Beadle, a bird illustrator by profession but a moth enthusiast by night, who would also help me with my identifications. Quite often he would send me one of his own photos to help me figure out an ID. It didn’t take me long to suggest to him that he should compile his photo library into a printed guide.

Well, one thing led to another, as things often do, and in 2008, with much help and support from our agent along the way, we signed a contract with Houghton Mifflin to produce a new Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Why just for the northeast? Two reasons: we didn’t feel we had the necessary expertise to expand outside of this range, and we felt that trying to include species from a wider geographic area would compromise the usefulness of the book. That said, many of the species that will be treated in this guide occur throughout much of eastern North America, or even across the continent, and the guide should be useful even to people who do not live within the boundaries defined by our range maps.