Butterfly and Moth ID



UK butterflies – this is a fab website with great photos, you can quickly and easily sift through the photos or if you have an idea which family you’re looking for you can head straight for that.

Steven Cheshire’s British Butterflies – this is a great step by step identification tool, it also gives you the top 10 butterflies you are likely to see at the top of the page.

Butterfly Conservation: Identify a butterfly – another good online tool that lets you select a feature  (location seen, size, colouring, markings) and it will filter the photos for you.

Books and fold out charts:

FSC fold out charts – I would recommend these laminated charts for a number of different animal and plant groups, they are great to take out in to the field; they are lightweight, waterproof and don’t get scuffed easily. As well as photos they also give a bit of info on the life-cycle, habitat etc on the back.  Some of the guides are limited as there only so many species you can fit on to them so I would always recommend also buying a book if you really want to get in to something. But, considering there are only 57 (depending on how many you consider to be extinct!), the butterfly guide covers all UK species.

Pocket guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland – this is great, lightweight book to take out in to the field. Each species has 2 pages of illustrations and text. Although it’s small it provides a good amount of information including all life cycle stages, distribution map and chart showing when each stage is active for each species. It also has a great bit at the back showing common day flying moths which I have found useful in the past.

The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland – I absolutely love this book. This is a large book and not suitable to take in to the field however if you are interested in knowing more about the ecology of butterflies then this is perfect. As well as beautiful illustrations, all the life cycle stages, distribution map and a chart showing when each stage is active it also has detailed and brilliantly written information about the ecology and behaviour of each species. If this doesn’t get you enthusiastic about butterflies then nothing will!


2,400 species of macro and micro day flying and night flying moths have been recorded in Britain, which can be a bit daunting to start but once you get stuck in they really are a fascinating and beautiful group of insects.


UK moths – This website gives you a beginners top 10  as well as a keyword search. Failing that there is also a facebook page with regular posts on what you’re currently likely to see, you can also post any photos or queries you might have and someone will get back to you. Personally I would always look through a book first and failing that have a look on the facebook page which I have found very useful so far.

British Moths – although this only shows less than 280 species it covers quite a few that you are likely to see. It shows photos and usually a line about ID features, for more in depth information about life-cycle or habitat etc I would look at the site mentioned above or a book.

Butterfly Conservation: Identify a day-flying moth – a useful online tool for day-flying moths that lets you select a feature  (location seen, size, colouring, markings) and it will filter the photos for you.

iSpot – if you are really struggling to identify something you can upload a photo to this website and see if anyone else can identify it for you. You have to register first but this doesn’t take long and they don’t ask for much personal info. 

There are also various county moth groups and a London moth group – I am not yet a member but probably will become soon.

Books and fold out charts:

FSC fold out charts – they do a great Hawkmoth chart showing the adult and caterpillar of all of our 18 species and a guide to day-fling moths.

Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain & Ireland – This includes all 800 UK macro moths and provides great illustrations showing the natural resting positions of different species as well as comprehensive information on habitat, flight period, distribution and, similar species; very useful. It’s not to technical so great for novices. Really this is the best book for macro moths out there at the moment! There is also a great concise guide and a newer book on micro moths which I have yet to purchase.

Britain’s Day-flying Moths: A Field Guide to the Day Flying Moths of Britain and Ireland – this will be coming out on the 30th of September this year (2013). There are 100 or so day-flying moths in the UK so it is a good place to start if you want to get in to moths, I think it is great to see them have a book all to themselves, lets hope it is good!


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