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Monday, 9 March 2015

Garden Moths

Moth Trap
On Friday (6th March) I took another step outside of my comfort zone.

A couple of years ago when I decided to look at moths seriously, I researched and dismissed the Garden Moths Scheme ( deciding to collect moths as and when the mood took me. GMS asked for a commitment to trap moths every Friday night for the period between March and November. The minimum effort is to trap for 27 of the 36 weeks. Not every moth is required to be recorded, GMS provide a spreadsheet of the 200 or so most common moths for the the South West region.

The idea is to reduce the variables to a minimum – moth species, day (irrespective of weather), moth trap and location – to provide a good statistical basis to account for why, where and when moths are present.

Moth Trap in the dark
In 2012 when I started with moths, this was all too daunting. So, I plodded along putting out my moth trap on warm, cloudy, moonless nights and have managed to record over 100 species in my small rural garden. I rely heavily on my County Moth Recorder to determine tricky, new, out of season, or very worn specimens. (Determine = expert confirms or suggest the correct species)

After a couple of years the County Recorder referred me to GMS and now is does seem less daunting. I don't expect to see all the moths on the South West list but I am more confident in my ability to identify at least some of them and I now have two experts to help with determinations!

Common Flat-Body
Agonopterix heracliana
I have recently converted my Skinner 40W actinic trap into a more rain friendly type of moth trap – a twin 20W Compact flourescent. This means it will cope better with adverse weather conditions that regularly trapping on a Friday night entails. One of the major tenets of GMS is to establish distribution and flight times irrespective of weather conditions so I am pleased to add my location to the database and continue my mothing learning curve.

And, the result of my first session – a single moth which is not on the GMS common 200 list -Agonopterix heracliana!

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