Tag Archive: moth trapping


Common Quaker

Hebrew Character

Two wee beauties from Sunday night’s and last night’s trappings respectively, my first two successful trappings of the year.

The WB100 is earning its stripes! Click on the photos to view them in high-res on Flickr.

More about them on the Log.

Common Quaker and Hebrew Character bring the year list to…
2013 MOTHS: 10


Where was I?

In July – too busy with work to have any energy for blogging… in August – at a caravan with basically no internet access. But now I’m at the library at good ol’ Newcastle, County Down, and I’m in the mood for bloggingood!!! (well, I had to make it rhyme somehow)

I’ll start off with a bang…

Lesser Swallow Prominent; Murlough NNR; 5 August 2012


This, my dear readers, is a Lesser Swallow Prominent moth. Over the past week I’ve been joining a friend of mine, Andrew Crory, a volunteer who regularly puts out UV light traps at Murlough NNR near Newcastle. The light traps attract moths by the dozen (and flies by the million as well as ichneumons, bees and beetles) and in the morning – bingo, you get a box full of beauuuuuuuuuuuutiful moths like this one.

My moth year list is over 240 now and my life list must be approaching 270. It’s getting ridiculous now!

A few more nice pics from the traps before I start typing again:

Antler Moth; Murlough NNR; 6 Aug 2012

Antler Moth

Scallop Shell; Murlough NNR; 6 Aug 2012

Scallop Shell

That’s just a taste – there were loads more and once I get home Flickr will be duly bombarded with all the photos.

A technique that’s also been very useful for finding new stuff is looking for leaf mines. These are distinctive squiggles/blotches/blisters made on the leaves of many different plant species by many different insect species. One of the most common leafminers has to be Stigmella aurella, which I mentioned at the start of the year:

Stigmella aurella larvae mining Rubus sp.; Murlough NNR; 5 Aug 2012

Stigmella aurella larvae, mining some kind of Rubus (Blackberry/Raspberry) cultivar

Well, we knew THAT one was in Murlough, but Andrew and I think we’ve found about 6 new moth species for the reserve in the space of about three days. Noooooo joke.

So you can see the attraction.

Incidentally, I’ve collected some of the tenanted mines (ones with the larvae still in them, as opposed to vacated mines that the larvae have left) and am rearing them. Those three caterpillars above have now all exited their mines and are pupating in tiny brown cocoons on the leaves.

I also have 1 Phyllonorycter coryli (pupated), 1 Ectoedemia minimella (which has left the mine but might not pupate – it’ll be a difficult one as it has to overwinter) and 3 Apple Leaf Miners, Lyonetia clerkella (all pupated). Bringing them into the warmth seems to make them go into pupation mode pretty much immediately. They must know to take advantage of warmf.

The Apple Leaf miner has the coolest pupation technique – it doesn’t make a cocoon. It makes a hammock.

Apple Leaf Miner (Lyonetia clerkella) larva in pupation 'hammock'; Slidderyford, Newcastle; 1 Aug 2012


Well, brethren, my time is short so I must fly. But at some point… I’ll get round to talking about those cute tern chicks I think I mentioned. If I can bring myself to. Working during the summer holidays, even paid work, even for the RSPB… really demands motivation. But it’s been very good and I’ve loads of photos, which mostly look the same from a distance.

You’ll see what I mean.

EDIT 04.01.2013: I should have said, actually, to do him justice, that Mr Crory is a volunteer warden at the reserve, and its principal moth recorder.

EDIT 28.03.2013: In fact, he has now been appointed Macro-moth Recorder for Northern Ireland!

The usual moth craic

Endrosis sarcitrella, 5 Apr 2012


Due to a run of cold or wet nights recently, I haven’t been putting my moth trap out. But last night didn’t seem too bad, so I decided to give it a whizz. As I was finishing setting up, I looked at the lit kitchen window and found two White-shouldered House Moths, Endrosis sarcitrella (this photo from my trapping session on 5-6 Apr). Now, I realise most people are not fond of clothes moths (even some moth enthusiasts squish them) and I can understand why. But even though it’s like counting feral pigeons on your bird transect, I record all the WSHMs anyway. It gives a more accurate picture of how frequently I see different species.

I realised just now that I haven’t actually taken time to explain my rationale behind moth trapping. In fact, I haven’t actually explained how it works!

The key thing is, insects, including most moths, are attracted to light, especially UV light. (Why that doesn’t make them fly towards the sun all the time is beyond me. Furthermore, scientists don’t have a definitive answer to why they are attracted to light at all.) So if you want to find out what moths are in your garden, you can set up a UV lamp with some kind of container that the moths will fall into when they bump into the lamp.

The moth trap I built was based on a design by a local Butterfly Conservation branch member. Instructions for building it can be found on the BCNI Resources page.

Oh yes. What did I find in the trap this morning?


Sorry if the suspense is killing you, because all there was was…

Hebrew Character: 1!

Hebrew Character, 29 Apr 2012

If I don't be creative with these Hebrew Character photographs they will take over the blog.

Trap Report 6 Apr 2012

A mainly cloudy night from 5-6 Apr produced just one moth in the trap on Friday morning, but a year tick for me:


1 Endrosis sarcitrella White-shouldered House Moth (NFY)

I’ve created a new ‘Moth trapping’ category in but I’m not yet decided if I want to clog up the blog with trap reports (which some readers might find boring). As long as I put a photo or two on each post it shouldn’t detract from the aesthetics.

In any case, I report all my catches on the Back Garden Moths forum.

‘Twas Aprillig

I’ll let the slithy toves do the gyring and gimbling. Here are some photos from my weekend jabberwocking.

Our front garden

Kiss my tulips.


Hebrew Character (released from trap), 1 Apr 2012

I put the trap out again over Saturday night and got another two Hebrew Characters, both fresh specimens, and both actually inside the trap!


Speckled Wood, Murlough, 1 Apr 2012

My first Speckie of the year, in Murlough on Sunday.


Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Apr 2012

Finally - a decent Small Tort photo. None of this faffing around in trees business.


Shoulder Stripe, Murlough, 1 Apr 2012

I had my net with me this time when I went dusking in Murlough, and found a few of this species: Shouder Stripe. A new tick for me. Double-striped Pugs as well... all the Stripes.


Mother of Pearl or Small Magpie caterpillar (captive, project 13A), 1 Apr 2012

Ah yes. As well as Lesley, I've got a nettle leafroller that I'm keeping inside as well. It's most likely Mother of Pearl, but possibly Small Magpie.


2012 MOTHS: 6, 2L
  2012 new ticks: 4
  life list: 140 

Species study 13, project B: unidentified Pyralid

A proper catch

Hebrew Character, 24 Mar 2012

My First Alphabet

I put the moth trap out for its first all-night spin over Friday night. When I checked on the trap in the morning I found it covered in dew. Opening it up I found the expected infantry of flies… and then, crouching in the corner of an egg crate, the first moth to actually come into my trap.

It was a Hebrew Character, a new ‘tick’ for me. Judging by the feathery antennae, I’d say it was a male.

As I cleared up the trap, I found a second, rather bedraggled-looking Hebrew Character, sitting on the grass at the edge of the old shower curtain which I had laid out as a groundsheet.

Hebrew Character, 24 Mar 2012


Quite cool.

2012 MOTHS: 5
life list: 138 

Yes sir, my dad and I finished our DIY moth trap last night and earlier this evening I put it out for an evening session. It’s a Heath trap design, with a 25W black light.

My 25W Blacklight moth trap

Ready for action

Within seconds, I had my first visitors.




There must be about a dozen different species fussing around out there now.

But after nearly an hour and a half…

Rhigognostis incarnatella (Scotch Smudge), 20 March 2012

The Scotch Smudge. It'll never know what a special little moth it was


I first recorded this species in my garden late last year, so it’s nice to see it’s still around. The picture doesn’t show it very well, but it’s one of the more handsome micros. It bustled for a minute on the outside of the trap before zipping off.

It was followed a while later by…

Double-striped Pug, 20 March 2012



This one didn’t enter the trap either – I found it sitting on the lid. A second doublestripe fluttered around the lamp before flying off at 10° to the vertical. So in the end none of the moths actually were ‘caught’. But it was encouraging that they were attracted.

At about 22:15 I made a final check and persuaded the Pugs and flies to leave before switching the lamp off and turning in. The lamp was cool after about five or ten minutes, which I’m relieved about as it does get quite hot.

2012 MOTHS: 4

Happy Mothing Sunday!

Oops, I misspelt the title. Or maybe I didn’t.

My DIY Moth Trap

My DIY Moth Trap

I was working on my DIY moth trap ’til the early hours last night, and I’ve nearly got it finished. Just some sealing and screwing to do, plus the installation of a drainage hole.

Last Sunday was more of a Mothing Sunday for me – after our family gathering at the caravan I went into Murlough for half an hour’s moth hunting. I wasn’t expecting to see anything so I hadn’t brought my net. All I had was a plastic ziplock bag, which was absolutely useless for capturing the respectably-sized Geometrid that was fluttering over the grass. WRAAAAAGH! I’ll never know what it was.

Then a plume moth showed up. My only available tactic was to bat the insect gently from above until it went to ground. It worked – and there was my first Emmelina monodactyla (Common Plume) of the year, climbing up the grass stems and zipping off.

Some little papillons de nuit further on received similar treatment, and this time one stayed still on grounding. Say hi to the Double-striped Pug!

Double-striped Pug, 11 March 2012

Double-striped Pug

2012 MOTHS: 3