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Seven Backyards
Moths...Moths...Moths...and their Habitats...and other stuff....
Several Long-Term Backyard
Studies in the U.S. and Australia

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Moths and Memories
I chose the subtitle (“Moths & Memories”) primarily as an excuse to allow me to draw attention to the stimulating and amusing writings of P.B.M. Allan, potentially of great interest to any moth-hunter who has progressed somewhere beyond the “vacuum cleaner/drawer-filling phase” of this vast and endlessly fascinating field of inquiry! Moths & Memories (London: Watkins & Doncaster, 1948), was borrowed from the title of one of several books written by P.B.M. Allan in the 1930's-1940's. Other titles in the series were: Talking of Moths, A Moth-Hunter's Gossip, Leaves from a Moth-Hunter's Notebook, Larval Foodplants, etc. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, Mr. Allan was one of my first “armchair mentors” (and an imaginary field companion), in my earliest years of moth-hunting on Oak Pass Rd. (late 1940's to early 1950's). I have included here three of his most interesting (and valuable) chapters as PDF's, for the benefit and amusement of those “moth-ers” who are seeking to learn and understand more....Some of the topics addressed by Mr. Allan (often in considerable depth; sometimes hilariously or flippantly — but always to get you thinking), are summarized in the 3 copied Tables of Contents, which are included with the above-mentioned PDF's.
One of my (other) early mentors — again, only via the written word — was W.J. Holland: The Moth Book (The Nature Library: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1903), a beautiful copy of which was given to me for Christmas, 1944, by our earliest, nearest (and dearest!) neighbor on Oak Pass Rd., Nelle Kennedy Stowell (mentioned elsewhere). Holland's “bible” was the only book, illustrating moths in color, to which I has access as a child and teenager. I spent many hours pouring over the 48 excellent color plates and various line-drawings....Unfortunately (for me), the majority of species illustrated by Holland were of the eastern or southern U.S. faunas — not western. Nevertheless, a Californian could “hit the jackpot” every-so-often amongst the Holland plates, which I soon discovered....My original (hardback) copy finally fell apart, and I had to have it rebound! There was also a paperback reprint-edition, produced 65 years later by Dover Publications, Inc. (1968) — plate quality somewhat inferior to the first edition.
The must-read classic essay in Holland's Moth Book is entitled “Sugaring for Moths” (pp.146-150 in both editions)....

I have re-read this gem many times over the decades. P.B.M. Allan (1937, 1947) also devotes a chapter to the same topic, discussed from the British perspective (pp.94-119 in A Moth-Hunter's Gossip, 2nd ed.). He went more deeply into “the science” of it than did Holland; the latter captured the atmosphere, the thrill of the hunt....I have heard many a “sob-story” about failed attempts at “sugaring” in the West (including most of my own efforts here).... And ditto from Chris Henne, Frank Sala, Lloyd Martin, and Charlie Hill! Before giving up, however, we (in the West) need to read and study the details in Mr. Allan's discussion — and then apply ALL of the principles and suggestions to be found therein!! This might yield some better results(?)....
My other earliest mentors were two amazing women who co-authored a fascinating book entitled Caterpillars & Their Moths (302 pp.), by Ida M. Eliot & Caroline G. Soule (The Century Co., 1902)....Their chapters are packed with numerous original observations and insights in plain English, on the early stages and life histories of (mostly) the larger eastern moths (sphingids & saturniids), but also with a scattering of moths from other families (arctiids, noctuids, notodontids, etc.), which were included in Part II of the book (Life-histories: pp.67-299). Part I (pp.3-66) offers much specific detail on rearing techniques, hunting for eggs, larvae, pupae, and larval habits, etc., etc., etc.....So far as I have been able to determine (scanning numerous bibliographies of contemporary entomological writers), Eliot & Soule have been consistently and studiously ignored (“overlooked”) by today's (supposedly) more “sophisticated” lepidopterists — no doubt for the usual pathetic reason — intellectual snobbery. For chapter-&-verse, deftly exposing this pervasive phenomenon, default to Dr. Anthony STANDEN (1950) and Prof. W. M. WHEELER (1929); they said it all, decades ago!!....Intellectual snobbery is as alive and well today as ever before: The only variables that seem to change over the years are the buzzwords (constantly evolving), the clothing fashions, and the wines or beers proclaimed by the highly-educated(??) but obviously insecure victims of this easily recognized malady....
Seven Backyards



Moths and Memories


Where Are the Specimens Now?


Background and Introduction


About The Backyard Concept

Motivations: Why Publish This Material?

Summarizing How These Projects Evolved

About the Photographs

Bias in Photo Representation

Moth Identifications

Taxonomy & Classification (the names)

About Moth Families & Subfamilies

Some Thoughts About Moth Surveys

Abundance Ratings Defined (8 Categories)

About the Flight Periods

Interpretation of the Flight-Phenograms

Miscellaneous Comments on Black Lights

Peculiarities of Moth Activity

Prime Time = Full-Moon-Plus-Ten

How To Obtain Perfect (Moth) Specimens

To Kill Or Not To Kill??

Beating or Sweeping for Larvae


Miscellaneous Tidbits Dept.