Moth Night on the Moss

Flanders Moss NNR

Moth Night is an annual celebration of moth-recording throughout Britain and Ireland and, since this year’s theme is reedbeds and wetlands, how could we surpass the opportunity to do some moth-trapping on our lovely wetland at Flanders?

Moth-trapping (or light-trapping) involves placing a box outside with a bright light above it, attracting moths to rest inside the box until morning where they can be counted, observed and later released unharmed.

So, Thursday night we ambled into Flanders Moss and set up a couple of traps, one in a scrubby, birchy-woodland area adjacent to the bog and one out on the open bog to see what we could lure in from the different habitats.

Ready with our moth-trapping kit. The pots allow a closer look at the ticky-to-identify moths, or sometimes just the really interesting ones!

Friday morning, we turned up to the traps as the sun started warming up the moss. It’s good to get to the traps as early as possible (dawn usually being the standard time for eager moth-ers!), but I think the team is starting to know I like a good night’s sleep so we decided to arrive just before our working day started.

Quite often, there’s a little niggle in the back of your mind that you’re about to arrive to an empty trap… Thankfully this didn’t happen!

Arriving at the open bog first – here were the highlights (the ones who stuck around for a photo)…

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala). These amazing twig-mimicks are common but this happened to be my first!
Map-winged Swift (Korscheltellus fusconebulosa). Named for the old-worldy map-like markings on the wings.
Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura). Named for it’s ‘smoky’ colour & texture on the hindwing.

The open-bog trap had 9 different species of a total 23 moths, the winner being True Lover’s Knot (Lycophotia porphyrea) of which there were 8 moths! They just didn’t want to stay still long enough for a photo.

Next to the woodland trap! This one was overflowing with moths, we had to be careful where we trod.

Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria).
Peppered moth (Biston betularia). The one from the biology textbooks as an example of natural selection due to it’s f. carbonaria form.
Straw dot (Rivula sericealis)
Common lutestring (Ochropacha duplaris)
Always a crowd-pleaser, Poplar Hawk moth (Laothoe populi)!
Scalloped hook-tip (Falcaria lacertinaria). A neat little dried leaf-mimick.
Iron Prominent (Notodonta dromedarius)
Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)
Riband Waves (Idaea aversata)
Plain Wave (Idaea straminata). Scarcer than and distinct from the Riband wave with it’s less ‘kinky’ bands across the wings.
Light Emerald (Campaea margaritata).

After safely tucking the moths away into the undergrowth so as to prevent them becoming breakfast to some hungry birds, we totted up the species. The woodland trap had 23 species altogether of 55 moths! No wonder we were running a bit late for work…

About Ellie Lawson, NNR Placement

Practical Placement on Stirling's NNRs. Enthusiastic about birds, butterflies, bogs, brochs... and the rest!
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2 Responses to Moth Night on the Moss

  1. peigimccann says:

    Wonderful, thanks for your survey and for sharing it with us!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Amazing! What a variety of moths, nature never ceases to be awesome, thankyou for the fab pics.

    Liked by 2 people

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