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You’re Invited to a Moth Ball

You’re Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration

Loree Griffin Burns, Photography by Ellen Harasimowicz
40 pp.
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Of all the insects that flitter and flutter into our homes, among the least welcome is the common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella), which has a penchant for ruining shirts, sweaters, and sundry other garments. However, this perfidious pest is just one of more than 150,000 different moth species. In You’re Invited to a Moth Ball, Loree Griffin Burns invites budding entomologists to embrace the “moth ball,” a nocturnal occasion to encounter the myriad moth species that live just outside our homes.

The text, written in a warm and casual register, first describes how to employ a combination of fruit smeared on trees and specialized ultraviolet lights to attract moths to viewing stations made using light-colored sheets hung on clothes lines. The book then details what to expect of your lepidopteran guests and offers some advice for maximally enjoying your nighttime rendezvous (although it fails to offer advice about how to handle other wildlife that might seek to gate-crash the ball). Along the way, Burns provides some useful, if basic, information about moth biology.

The book’s vibrant and inviting photographs, captured by Ellen Harasimowicz, are a true highlight. Indeed, the great variety and beauty of moths shown made me seriously consider gathering up the necessary supplies and having my own backyard moth party. However, the decision to omit captions, which might have explained the moths depicted in the photos, was a missed opportunity for further edification. I would have also liked to have seen more options for families who do not have access to backyards with trees. Still, this is a fun and engaging book that encourages children to explore the wonders of the world around them and that should hopefully spur them to seek out more in-depth sources of information, helpfully signposted in the book’s “Resources” section.

About the author

The reviewer is an associate editor at Science.