I love moths. About 5 years ago I was only familiar with the wee brown ones that would be drawn to the lights in the house, not able to find their way out again. When I was first asked if I'd be interested in moth trapping, I didn't really know what to say. What? I had no idea how beautiful and diverse their size, colour and shape. A secret world that you have to enter to discover them. Right now it's getting into peak mothing time. Here are some of the lovelies I've caught in the garden with a moth trap:

Pale tussock. 

They have amazing antenna, are very fluffy and I love that they rest with the front  legs outstretched. These have been one of the most numerous moths I've been catching recently.

Brimstone

Like the similarly named butterfly, fantastic bright sulphur yellow. 

White ermine

and buff ermine

Like many moths the ermines are scarily good at playing dead and often do an alarming faceplant, magically coming to life when released.

The fantastically named sandy carpet. This one was seen about a month earlier than it's flight season in the guidebook, an increasingly common occurrence with the warming climate.

Small magpie, one of the larger micro moths

Cinnabar

This is a day flying moth that you'll often see in rough grassland. You can also find the bright orange and black caterpillars feeding on ragwort.

Lesser swallow prominent

Iron prominent

This is my favourite moth but the one I caught wasn't the freshest or as handsome as they can be.

Fantastically shaped pebble-hook-tip

The gorgeously pink small elephant hawkmoth

Poplar hawkmoth

The master of disguise, the buff tip

And one you're sometimes not quite sure of . . .

 . . . until you look into it's "eyes"

Spectacle

If you would like to discover what incredible creatures are nosing around your garden at night, all you need to get started is a sheet lit up with a torch. Best results, however, come from using a moth trap (which also means you don't have to stay up really late) and you can buy or make your own. Information for either is easy to find with a quick internet browse. Best conditions are on warm, cloudy, not too windy evenings. They are very delicate and, like a butterfly, can't be touched, but will crawl onto a pencil/ twig. I like to keep mine in a cool place to be released in the evening when they'd normally be active. This also stops them immediately becoming bird food, the culprit often being a robin. As the garden is small I also only trap a couple of times a week so I'm not re-trapping the same ones, and allow them to go about their business. Moths, like many other invertebrates, are important pollinators as well as food for birds and bats, they just don't get the same credit as bees and butterflies as they mostly come out at night.

Anonymous