Belize (formerly British Honduras) is an independent state in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south (see map). Long regarded as a 'backwater', this politically stable, English-speaking country the size of Wales has a human population of only 240,000. Although conservation is taken very seriously in Belize (almost 80% of its forests remain undisturbed and it is one of the last refuges of the Jaguar) much of Belize's wildlife remains uncatalogued due to lack of the necessary resources. As elsewhere, this is particularly the case for the invertebrates which make up the vast majority of terrestrial animal species.

Every year since 1997 Matthew Barnes has made extended moth-collecting expeditions to Belize in an effort to establish - with the help of various fellow Belize moth enthusiasts and specialists (see acknowledgements) - a preliminary inventory of Belizean moths. New moth species have been recorded on every expedition to date and will, we hope, continue to be recorded in the years to come - limited resources permitting. Although the total number of species in a given area can never be known exactly, work to date suggests that of the order of 1,500 species of moth may be present in Belize.

Although more than one in every ten animal species on earth is a moth, and the general biodiversity of the new world tropics is incredibly high, there are very few publications on the moths and other insects of the neotropics generally - especially colour identification guides. It is hoped that this and similar internet catalogues (see links) may help to stimulate interest in the biodiversity of moths and other insects not merely of Belize but of other parts of central and south America as well.