Moth Trapping in Payhembury and Haywards Heath

This web site is primarily aimed at those new to moth trapping and who may find themselves spending a lot of time trying to identify moths. Micro moths are notoriously difficult to identify, many impossible without genitalia examination, can be even harder to photograph satisfactorily, and are frequently in less than pristine condition, all good reasons which increase the already difficult task of identification and why so many choose to ignore them. This is a shame, because during the summer months they can make up a significant part of the overnight catch. I have used Jim Porter's "A Label and Checklist of the British Micro-lepidoptera with Vernacular names" to name the micros I have recorded, but have also provided their scientific names to aid navigation.

I started moth trapping in a medium sized urban garden in Haywards Heath, West Sussex (map reference TQ326242, elevation 228 feet), which was frequently several degrees colder than nearby villages and towns. Over the years I planted apple, pear, plum and cherry trees, currant bushes, shrubs, perennial and annual flower borders and hundreds of spring bulbs. There were also native plants, including a herb garden, a nettle patch, some rotting wood stacks, a good-sized patch of ivy overgrowing a fence and a small and active pond containing, inter alia, dragonfly larvae, frogs and common newts. Although I lived a brisk 5-minute walk from open countryside, there were remnants of ancient woodland a short distance away, with many broad-leaf trees and sallows in adjoining gardens.

My first moth trap in April 2007 was home made, comprising a large plastic container with a removeable lid, into which a circular hole had been cut. A funnel, suitably cut to size fitted into the lid and into this was taped a simple lamp fitting. A low energy 11W UV bulb was used and, although somewhat under-powered, it did manage to draw in good numbers of moths at certain times of the year. Its main downside was that it was not water proof and so was located just inside the greenhouse, ever after affectionately known as the moth hotel! In March 2009 I switched to a Robinson trap with twin 30W Actinic tubes and as of 2014 I started to use a 125W MV light into another Robinson trap, which certainly seemed to attract many new species. The neighbours were remarkably tolerant.... Then, in early December 2015 I moved to a house on the outskirts of Payhembury in Devon, which has a very large well-established garden and the local moth populations have exceeded all expectations. At nearly 80ft higher in elevation, average overnight temperatures seem to have been 1-2 degrees warmer than Sussex, although it has been considerably wetter and windier.

Now running both moth traps, I have continued my strategy of placing them just inside the door of my two greenhouses. There are numerous benefits in doing this: you lessen the chances of moths flying away immediately the trap is opened in the morning, you greatly increase the number of micro moths recorded, which more often than not never enter the trap at all and can be clearly seen on the glass and are more easily potted up, and in my experience there are certain times of the year when even the macros simply shun the trap itself, but can be more readily found in and around the greenhouse.

Climatic conditions are generally noted between 22.00 and 23.00 hours.

Should you wish to contact me I can be reached on 01404 841696 or by email: piggleston at tiscali.co.uk (this is shown without the customary @ in an attempt to cut down on the spammers sending me an avalanche of rubbish).