Although mostly unseen by us, moths are everywhere. And there are a lot of them. Inspired by a revelatory encounter with a Poplar Hawk-moth – a huge, velvety-winged wonder wrapped in silver – James Lowen embarks on a year-long quest to celebrate the joy of Britain’s rarest and most remarkable moths.
By hiking up mountains, wading through marshes and roaming by night amid ancient woodlands, James follows the trails of both Victorian collectors and present-day conservationists. Seeking to understand why they and many ordinary folk love what the general public purports to hate, his investigations reveal a heady world of criminality and controversy, derring-do and determination. From Cornwall to the Cairngorms, James explores British landscapes to coax these much-maligned creatures out from the cover of darkness and into the light.
Moths are revealed to be attractive, astonishing and approachable; capable of migratory feats and camouflage mastery, moths have much to tell us on the state of the nation’s wild and not-so-wild habitats.
As a counterweight to his travels, James and his young daughter track the seasons through a kaleidoscope of moth species living innocently yet covertly in their suburban garden. Without even leaving home, they bond over a shared joy in the uncommon beauty of common creatures, for perhaps the greatest virtue of moths, we learn, is their accessibility. Moths may be everywhere, but above all, they are here. Quite unexpectedly, no animals may be better placed to inspire the environmentalists of the future.