With the fantastic help from Sian and Chris we ran a lovely moth morning today, and what a catch! Moth trapping is a fantastic way to see some native wildlife that would otherwise go unnoticed, largely due to moth’s nocturnal habits. You can start out by simply using a white sheet hung on a washing line with a torch, or strings dipped in something sweet and sickly – hang these on a tree and see what you attract. Or go a little further by either constructing your own moth trap or spend some money to invest in one. Moth trapping is brilliant for everyone and is very exciting for children, it’s a little like a present when you have your first look in the morning.
Sian and Chris set up a trap last night and left it running, ready for this morning. Inside among old egg cartons we had lots of moths (egg cartons are great to give shelter and hiding places). Sometimes you also get some other critters, I’ve had burying beetles before which are amazing, but beware, these smell strongly of rotting flesh so having them inside your home is definitely not recommended! All you need to ID your catch is some storage containers; these can be specifically for bugs or even something like a urine sample bottle. Collect up you moths so they’re safe before they start to become active and you lose them. You can them ID them one by one. The best way to do this is with an ID guide or book, there are lots to choose from. I’d also have a notebook and a pen handy to record your findings.
Here is our list of findings
July highflyer (Hydriomena furcata) x5
Antler moth (Cerapteryx graminis) x6
Gold spot (Plusia festucae) x2
Bordered beauty (Epione repandaria) x1
Common wainscot (Common wainscot) x3
Small fan-footed wave (Idaea biselata) x1
Beautiful goldenY (Autographa pulchrina) x2
Mottled beauty (Alcis repandata) x1?
Scalloped oak (Crocallis elinguaria) x1
Lesser swallow prominent (Pheosia gnoma) x1
Lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing (Noctua janthe) x3
Dark arches (Apamea monoglypha) x3
Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina) x1?
Lesser yellow underwing – Hebridean specimen (Noctua comes) x1
Lesser swallow prominent
Honeysuckle moth (Ypsolopha dentella) x1
Bird cherry ermine (Yponomeuta evonymella) x2
Depending on where you are in the UK your species list could be really different and of course it will depend on the time of year too and what food plant species you have nearby. If you trap regularly over a period of months you’ll see things change. The more you trap the better you’ll get at recognising the common moths, anything unusual will jump out at you. A lot of them are quite docile to handle and photograph but if not a safe way to slow them down is to pop them in the fridge for a while.
So, why not get outside and enjoy the UK’s 2500 species of moth? They beat our 70 species of butterfly hands down and a lot of them are just as stunning. My favourites from today were the Lesser swallow prominent and the Gold spot.