For several years I have been sending my butterfly records to Butterfly Conservation. A few months ago in their magazine there was an offer of a moth trap. I had been considering buying one some time ago but this offer seemed too good to miss. So I am now the proud owner of a very simple trap and an identification guide. I’ve had some helpful hints from experts and am thoroughly enjoying this venture.
I’ve been amazed at the variety I’ve had, perhaps not surprising when you consider that there are over 2,000 species of moths in Britain. So how to go about catching some?
First my trap: containing egg boxes for the moths to rest in; at dusk turn on the light and put the box in a suitable place in the garden having checked that it’s not likely to rain. At approximately 5 am I turn off the light, close the flaps and cover with a small towel and return to bed. At about 8.30 I go to inspect.
Often there are several Little Brown Jobs and if I can photograph them, I send them off to Paul and Royanne for identification. Sometimes, with the bigger moths, I can find them in the identification guide book. The first I managed myself were White Ermine Moths. Then, to my surprise, a Small Elephant Hawk Moth.
I’d no idea such beautiful creatures were flying round my garden. Later an Elephant Hawk Moth (a larger species) appeared too.
The next surprise was a Poplar Hawk Moth. Both these species were quite happy on my hand.
Another interesting one was the Peppered Moth famous for being studied for its ability to evolve a dark form as a result of air pollution in Manchester. Next came a Brimstone Moth, easy for me to identify.
Another of the pretty moths I found was a female Fox moth and one, not so pretty but distinctive, a Snout. Another unusual shaped one, a Buff Tip, but it flew off too quickly for me to photograph. It looks just like a broken off Birch twig, wonderful camouflage. I’ve also had several Cockchafers.
One of the fascinations is that I don’t know what might turn up; another is the sheer variety of names and shapes. No doubt everyone, certainly my family, will be getting heartily fed up with “Guess what I’ve found today” But moth trapping has been a blessing over the last few months and I would recommend it.
Many thanks for their encouragement and help to:
Royanne Wilding, former President UWFS
Dr Paul Millard, Moth Recorder
Dr Chris Alder