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Birdwing Field Guide To Indian Moths

Purva Variyar reviews Birdwing Field Guide to Indian Moths by Dr. V. Shubhalaxmi.

Book Details

Birdwing Field Guide to Indian Moths
By Dr. V. Shubhalaxmi
Published by Birdwing Publishers
Paperback; 461 pages;
Price: Rs. 3,500/-

When a twig is not a twig,
a leaf is not a leaf, and a flower
not a flower… behold, it’s a moth!

Our lack of interest and information on these splendid creatures is depriving us of the chance to learn about their fascinating existence. Dr. V. Shubhalaxmi – fondly known as the Moth lady – has been salvaging this predicament for over two decades now. Her latest effort is in the form of this book, an user-friendly field guide to the moths of India.

More than just identification, the book touches on moth behaviour, anatomy, ecology, food and diet, and goes on to introduce the reader to the exciting hobby of moth-watching. This is followed by a chapter that offers advice on ‘moth photography’ and simple suggestions on how amateurs can help fill the data-deficiency gap. The language, tone and vibe of the book is welcoming and simple enough for even a non-mothing enthusiast to get enthusiastic about these critters.

After a hiatus of almost a century, this field guide caters to an unrealised need. Well researched, informative and studded with quality images of nearly 800 species of moths, the book is a great addition to natural history documentation. As Isaac Kehimkar, renowned butterfly expert, rightly points out in the foreword, “Writing about moths is actually searching in the dark where references on certain groups do not exist, but Shubha has successfully managed to collect and use much-needed information, especially on their ecology, plus she worked very tenaciously all through the nights during her studies and often alone at the study sites.” My only bone of contention is the lack of a navigation system to identify a moth, the way most good bird guides do. As a complete novice in the field of moths, it would have made a world of difference to have had a set of stepwise instructions on how to correctly identify unfamiliar moths.

All in all, the Birdwing Field Guide to Indian Moths is a must buy. It has already triggered my curiosity and urge to engage in moth watching and learning. This book is a significant step towards initiating and building interest in moths, the first step towards winning support for their conservation.

First publshed in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVIII No. 8, August 2018.

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