The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Moth Trap at the Farm

Two weekends ago I took the moth trap to a local farm to see what I could catch away from the lights of the village. The farmer there is very interested in nature conservation and has done much to enhance the farm for wildlife.
I set up the trap on some short grass between a woodland strip and an area of wild bird cover. It seemed like the perfect spot, but shortly after I arrived back home it started to rain, and the rain continued for most of the night.

The next morning I didn't hold out much hope that there would be anything in the trap, so I didn't rush round to the farm too early. When I arrived at the trap there were a number of chickens looking rather intrigued by it! I then noticed that there were not only quite a number of moths inside the trap, but there were about ten moths on the white sheet.

Amazingly, I caught 62 moths that night and 24 different species. Among the many small brown jobs were a number of more interesting moths. This is a Pebble Hook-tip, Drepana falcataria, which had avoided being eaten by the chickens! 

This strange-looking moth is a Coxcomb Prominent, Ptilodon capucina, with its blond quiff.

Green seemed to be a popular colour. As well as a Green Silver-lines, that I had previously caught at home, I caught two Green Arches, Anaplectoides prasina. These are lovely moths and they remind me of an old carpet!

I also caught a Green Pug, Pasiphila rectangulata

I also managed to get a picture of a Brimstone Moth, Opisthograptis luteolata, which pleased me as previously they have flown away when I have taken the lid off the trap!

Probably the most spectacular moth I caught that night was this Northern Eggar, Lasiocampa quercus. It is quite a large moth, with a wing length of about 5 centimetres. 

I was excited by this moth, but couldn't find it in my moth book. It turns out to be a Small Magpie, Eurrhypara hortulata, which is classified as a micro moth. Strangely it is bigger than many of the macro moths that I have caught. (Yes, it makes no sense to me, either!!)

I also caught five large Poplar Hawkmoths like I mentioned in my previous post and various brown moths that took me ages to identify. By the time I had emptied the trap, taken pictures of each moth and then identified them all it was nearly lunch time!

I made sure that I released the moths well away from the chickens!

Last weekend I took the trap back to the farm and set it up again. It seemed like the perfect weather so I was hopeful for a big haul. Almost as soon as I switched it on a moth flew straight into the trap! In the morning I was a little disappointed to have only caught 45 moths, and no large ones this time! 

However, I still caught 25 species and 13 of them were ones I hadn't caught the week before. It really amazes me how different the results can be only a few days apart.

This one is a Light Emerald, Campaea margaritata.

This is the first Peppered Moth, Biston betularia, I have caught. I remember learning about these at school. There are two or three colour morphs of this moth, and normally the lighter one, like this, is the most common. However, following the Industrial Revolution, with increased pollution levels the darker morph became more common because the trunks of the trees were darker. Today, with our cleaner air the light moths are once again the most common.

I do like the green moths! This is a Green Carpet, Colostygia pectinataria. 

Most of the rest of the moths I caught that night were variations on a theme, all much the same shape and colours, such as this Double Square-spot, Xestia triangulum

So far this year I have caught 48 different species. The person who lent me the trap has told me that he thinks I will catch over 150 species by the end of the year. I had better brush up on my ID skills!


  1. How interesting Nick!
    We had a moth specialist about 3 years ago who remained with us a couple of days to records the moths in our area.
    Many are the same as the ones you got!
    Some are really gorgeous!
    Catching them with light on a white cloth is a great way to see what's going on and record the species and the percentage of individuals of each species too.
    Well done!

    1. It would be great to have an expert here to help identify them! At least I am starting to recognize some of the species that I have seen before! I have to admit that it is quite addictive as there are always new species in the trap!

  2. I had to stop myself saying WOW, As I scrolled down and saw so many stunning moths. How very interesting indeed. It's time consuming now to ID them NIck, and not always easy, but you will soon have a wealth of knowledge, then you won't need to spend so much time looking for IDs. I must say that out of all these beauties, I only knew the Magpie, and have quite a few saved posts of unidentified moths, that I'm still trying to ID. You're doing a great job. Well Done!

    1. Thanks Sonjia. I have to admit that I have spared you all of the little brown ones that look so similar! Luckily the person who has lent me the trap is happy for me to e-mail pictures to him to confirm my IDs. I think I am slowly getting better!

  3. The mechanism of this clever contraption seems to be very effective for you to net so many species.

    I do agree with you that the green moths are more attractively patterned with beautiful hues. The Northern Eggar looks like one which you would like to adopt as a pet.

    1. Hi Elsie, Sorry, I have been away on holiday and couldn't reply to comments from my iPod. I am hoping that the moth trap with become even more effective when a new battery arrives for it, hopefully before the weekend.
      Yes, I hadn't thought about having a Northern Eggar as a pet, but I think it would look good sitting on my shoulder!

  4. Hi Nick!:) Thanks for your visit. As much as I would like to,I was finding it so time consuming answering every comment on my blog, however if I'm asked a question, I now do it this way, hope you don't mind.

    We have very few mosquitos, hardly any! This may be because we live in the north of Portugal, where it doesn't get as hot, or/and, the top water is occasionally skimmed off for irrigation purposes on the farm. I haven't noticed any near our fish pond or around any of our large water tanks also used for irrigation.Whatever the reason,and I really don't know,:) we so enjoy this quiet shady place and I hope you eventually have a pond wherever you decide to live.

    1. Hi Sonjia, Don't worry about responding to my comments. I am sure you have plenty more important things to do! I wonder if all of the wildlife in your pond manages to eat any mosquito larvae. Even here in Scotland, if we leave a bucket of water out in the summer it will soon have mosquito larvae in it. We sometimes do this so that we can feed them to the aquarium fishes! I remember looking into irrigation tanks in the Algarve when we were on holiday there, and seeing small fish in them. When we lived in the Camargue any water bodies had mosquito fish in it. They had been introduced from the USA to try to help with the mosquito problem and they were thriving. Sadly the mosquitoes were also thriving, too!

  5. In a way, they are even more intriguing than butterflies. They have intricate patterns and those beautiful antennas, I'm glad you were able to get this collection and share it. I hope to see more!

    1. Thanks Maria. And there are so many more species of moths here than butterflies. However, it does make identifying them very difficult!