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A brief introduction to this site

Welcome to my butterfly and moth collection!


Before I'd turned 7 years old I discovered my grandfather's two cabinets of set butterflies and moths in the top-floor attic of the house in Saltburn-by-Sea, North Yorkshire, an event that was to fire my life-long fascination with this order of insects. My grandfather died before I was born, and I wish I'd have known him. Through the subsequent years my father encouraged this interest in many practical ways, and led me to appreciate the wonders of the natural world. More than anything else, he taught me how to be still, and 'to look'. For many years I snatched at the opportunity to photograph butterflies and moths whenever possible but with the purchase of my first DSLR in 2007 the volume and quality of images inevitably increased greatly to the point where I now wish to share my better shots with anyone who cares to view them.


Butterflies and moths all belong to the same Order, Lepidoptera, and in evolutionary or taxonomic terms are part of the same continuum. 


There is also an element in creating this website to capture, at least for my family and friends and anybody else who cares, memories of these wonderful insects as their fragile habitats succumb to the relentless destructive pressures put upon them, and all other life on the planet, by our own species. The landscape shots are of fundamental importance to this website as they record the broad context in which these critical and threatened habitats and ecosystems currently exist. Many of the African, Amazonian, Indian and Far Eastern forests portrayed here have already disappeared or been severely degraded during the past decade for mining, cattle grazing, palm oil production, infrastructure developments and illegal logging.


The pages of moth photographs taken in countries beyond the UK are included for general interest and information rather than because I think they're necessarily great shots! Most of them were taken at night against brightly illuminated sheets or whitewashed walls amongst lots of movement resulting in unimpressive compositions. You'll notice that many of the moths are not yet identified, but with the passage of time I'll try to sort them out.

The photos for the UK and Europe follow the sequencing in Tolman & Lewington's 'Collins Butterfly Guide'; for Ghana and Liberia it's Torben Larsen's seminal work 'Butterflies of West Africa'; for Latin America I used Bernard D'Abrera's seven-volume 'Butterflies of the Neotropical Region' until my 2018 trip to Peru when it became increasingly clear that much of his taxonomic ordering was, sadly, out-of-date - identifications are now derived from several sources, principally from the photographic-memories of David Geale, Adrian Hoskins and Andrew Neild; and for Asia, mostly India in practice, I've relied heavily on Kehimkar's 'Indian Butterflies' and on my good friend, Arjan Basu Roy of the NGO 'Naturemates'.


Note: despite my best efforts some of the insects may have been mis-identified and many will have experienced genus changes, particularly for the Neotropics, that I have not yet caught up with, and possibly never will. I'll be more than happy to have any errors brought to my attention! Corrections will be made in due course.


Cameras: from 2007 I used a Pentax K10D with a 105mm Sigma macro-lens. Then in 2013 I switched to a Panasonic Lumix FZ200 due to its greater flexibility and lightness and was very satisfied with it until it 'died' during a trip to Peru in October 2016. With no spare, a valuable lesson was learned! So I now possess two Lumix FZ1000 cameras ready for the 2017 season, and beyond....


Peter Bygate


Links      Butterfly Conservation, European Butterflies Group     Matt Rowling's comprehensive site        Indian Foundation for Butterflies        Kolkata-based NGO centred on wildlife conservation, butterflies, and humanitarian assistance

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