Moth Identification book recommendations

I’ve been mothing for several years now and I’m looking to expand my knowledge. I’ve searched for good in-depth guides to eastern North American moths, and the only ones that I’ve found are these three, which I already have;

Moths and Caterpillars of the North Woods by Jim Sogaard
(A nice beginners guide)

The Moth Book by W. J. Holland
(Nice, but a bit old and outdated)

Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America by David Beadle & Seabrooke Leckie (A great guide, but I wish it went bit more in-depth, especially with micros)

Can anyone recommend a good moth book that haven’t found? Thanks for any help.


Paging @mamestraconfigurata


Sadly Ian Toal (mamestraconfigurata) recently passed away, according to his iNat profile. He was a valued member of the community here on the Forum and on iNat and he’ll be missed.

I don’t want to change the topic of this thread, but if someone wants to make a new memorial topic for him, please do, especially if you knew him.


I’m very sorry to hear that. He was a friendly person and helpful member of the community. In one of my conservations with Ian, he mentioned this book


Usually I start with a local checklist. For myself, this is usually the Annotated checklist of the moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Canada and Alaska. You’re often better off directly asking people who are frequent IDers of moths in your region what the best or most current checklist is and if they can direct you to a copy.

When trying to find identifying characteristics, I sometimes use old publications in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, since moth descriptions are often just in research articles.

The main resource that moth professionals use is the Moths of North America (MONA) series. It’s broken up by Family and Subfamily and several of them are available online:

Have a look here:

It isn’t a complete set of the books, but it will be a great start for your endeavours.

(Also you can directly obtain some from the Wedge Foundation for free, although I suspect that it may be the same set.)


Before there was Beadle & Leckie, there was Covell: it was published as a Peterson Field Guide in 1984 (ISBN 0395361001) and reissued by the Virginia Museum of Natural History (ISBN 1884549217). It’s essentially been replaced by Beadle & Leckie, which includes more up-to-date information, has beautiful live rather than spread specimen images, displays range maps and flight season bars, places the images adjacent to the text, and covers micros in greater depth. However, you might find that a used copy of Covell adds some depth to your bookshelf.

I find myself using mainly online resources: Moth Photographers Group ( and BugGuide (

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A nice treatise on the underwing moths is Sargent’s book entitled Legion of the Night. Of course it’s OOP and used copies are not cheap, running around $70 at Amazon/eBay right now.

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