Book cover of The Jewel Box: How Moths Illuminate Nature’s Hidden Rules by Tim Blackburnby Tim Blackburn

A plastic box with a lightbulb attached may seem like an odd birthday present. But for ecologist Tim Blackburn, a moth trap is a captivating window into the world beyond the roof terrace of his London flat. Whether gaudy or drab, rare or common, each moth ensnared by the trap is a treasure with a story to tell. In The Jewel Box, Blackburn introduces these mysterious visitors, revealing how the moths he catches reflect hidden patterns governing the world around us. 

With names like the Dingy Footman, Jersey Tiger, Pale Mottled Willow, and Uncertain, and at least 140,000 identified species, moths are fascinating in their own right. But no moth is an island—they are vital links in the web of life. Through the lives of these overlooked insects, Blackburn introduces a landscape of unseen ecological connections. The flapping of a moth’s wing may not cause a hurricane, but it is closely tied to the wider world, from the park down the street to climatic shifts across the globe. 

Interview with the Author

Podcast art for Science for the PeopleScience for the People 
#630 The Jewel Box
7/31/23          60 min

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