It’s Moth Night – or rather moth weekend this September 10-12th and the perfect time of year to see migrant moths. The moths in our gardens now seem to have taken on the subtle shades of Autumn, with shades of oranges and gold to fit perfectly with the colours of Autumn leaves.
I set up a moth trap, kindly on loan from my local natural history group. I used a tungsten bulb trap to attract my moths and it worked pretty well (luckily I had a dry night). I caught a lot of moths, most were quite big and at first glance a disappointing, dark brown. However when I let one free, it flew off revealing it’s secondary wings in a flash of amber. These were Large Yellow Underwings and one of the most common of our larger moths in the UK at this time of year.
I know I should be excited about them all but it can take hours to identify each and every moth for a novice, so instead, I like to focus on one or two and let the majority free as soon as possible. A good handbook helps with identifying what you find but you can also use ukmoths.org. I didn’t manage to catch a really large migrant moth but I did get a golden medium sized, Dusky Thorn moth with its feather-like antennae.
If you have a moth trap and the time you can submit your recordings on the mothnight website, giving vital data for your area and they offer prizes for the most moths and most unusual findings.
Another burnt orange moth in my catch was this Centre Barred Sallow Moth.
If you want to take part in this moth night, you could buy a specialist moth trap to take part, borrow one in exchange for recording your findings or simply hang a white sheet next to a bright light and check it in the first hours of darkness, you’ll get a surprising amount of moths paying a visit. Fingers crossed tonight won’t be a washout.