Thursday, 19 September 2019

New Additions

Sub-angled Wave - 21st July 2021.

Cosmopolitan - 22nd September 2020. 
Spurge Hawk-moth - 12th August 2020. 
Jersey Tiger - 11th August 2020. 
Barred Hook-tip - 31st July 2020. 
Black Arches - 28th July 2020. 
Light Crimson Underwing - 27th June 2020. 
Pine Hawk Moth - 24th June 2020. 
Portland Ribbon Wave - 14th June 2020. 
Channel Island Pug - 2nd June 2020. 
Seraphim - 25th May 2020.
Northern Drab - 25th April 2020. 

Oak Processionary - 11th August 2019. 
Orache Moth - 7th August 2019. 
Dotted Border Wave - 1st August 2019. 
Goat Moth - 19th July 2019. 
Scarce Silver-lines - 11th July 2019. 
Sussex Emerald - 5th July 2019. 
Netted Pug - 3rd June 2019. 
Poplar Kitten - 3rd June 2019.
Broken-barred Carpet - 25th June 2019. 

Blair's Mocha - 13th October 2018. 

Oak Rustic - 12th October 2018. 
Scarce Silver Y - 3rd August 2018. 
Scalloped Hook-tip - 26th July 2018.
True Lover's Knot - 14th July 2018.
Sandy Carpet - 5th July 2018.
Beautiful Snout - 19th June 2018.
White Pinion Spotted - 1st June 2018.

Oblique Carpet - 7th August 2017

Festoon - 6th July 2017.
Cloaked Pug - 27th May 2017. 

Scarce Black Arches - 25th July 2016.

Buttoned Snout - 15th July 2016. 
Triple Spotted Clay - 13th July 2016. 

Beautiful Hook-tip - 15th July 2015

Large Emerald - 13th July 2015.
Cypress Carpet - 2nd July 2015.
Grass Rivulet - 25th June 2015.
Silky Wainscot - 24th June 2015.
Fir Carpet - 12th June 2015.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Phil's Garden Moths 1999 - 2018 ... an introduction

To start off here, I could act the plonker and 'big this up' presenting this Bloggy thing as some sort of cerebral scientific study, but it wouldn't be fitting would it? Being honest I have to admit that all that this Blog come diary is, is just a primitive way of storing some of my macro moth records (and photos) in a form that is pleasing (to me) as well as being a rough text reference point for personal use in the future. As a manic recorder of moths (and birds) I have developed some sort of warped inner need to set things out and arrange them in a form for comparison year upon year, and as I had nothing better to do, I decided to try having my own real, super dooper, proper moth Blog - delusional? Perhaps? Anyhow, as I already had all my written records set out in word document form, alongside tens of thousands of moths photos scattered haphazardly in my computer hard-drives set out in a year by year, I thought this set up would help me in some way, purely by having them all in one place ... well that was the thinking anyway??  Having just set out the first draft as it were, it looks and reads just about okay to my eye ... but as I say 'just about' ... 

When I initially decided to take on this rather time consuming work and I looked back at my many years of photos, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had at least a record shot of most of the species of moths that I have caught here since that big day in June/July of 1999 when I first started running moth traps in the garden. My fascination with Moths had been sparked after a few years of nagging whilst out birding via my old hairy mate F.N.Solly, the android moth man of old London Town. Nowadays, two full decades later on, I just can't imagine my life without a moth trap ... or two … or three …

Unfortunately I didn't own a digital camera until rather late in life (the spring of 2006 as it turned out) so there are many photographic gaps that need to be filled as time wears on. Some of those early rarity captures will never be duplicated of course. The photos are of dubious quality anyway due to using only cheap pocket type cameras and whilst I have toyed with the idea of buying a digital SLR camera, I always ended up spending any spare dosh on guitar bits and pieces. If I was loaded I would buy one, but I'm not, so therefore will be forced to persevere with inferior camera gear - I'm not all that bothered if truth be known. I used to have a Nikon 4500, with which it was possible to get half decent photos on occasion, but since that ancient relic packed up I've been stuck using various Nikon, Canon and Lumix compact or bridge cameras, so obviously the image quality isn't and never will be great, nothing I've owned has matched my old Nikon 4500 which is sorely missed, the macro facility on that old (less than 4 megapixel!!) ancient digital box brownie still puts to shame my modern day compact camera purchases. 

It never ceases to amaze me what turns up in a virtual habitat free urban garden surrounded by wooden fences, concrete, noisy yobs, spent beer cans and boy racer filled roads. The wonders of the world of 'the moth' are a joy to behold and I've spent an unhealthy amount of time manically checking my moth traps. Much of my latter life has become nocturnal, well during the peak time summer months  between the bird migrations anyway. The pleasure that they have given and continue to give me is worth its weight in gold. Up until the time of writing (May 2014) I've taken 415* species of macro moth here (and probably a similar amount of micro species too?) and although I'm far from a numbers/listing type person, even I have to admit that this is just a staggering amount when you think of it? I use the numbers just to quantify the vast selection of moth on offer, even in a vile area such as I live in ... it just fascinates me, and has proved an absorbing pastime even though no doubt, my neighbours think of me as a bit weird. They may well be right of course? The excitement of wandering out into the garden and finding a good moth totally out of the blue has never waned and hopefully never will, and I can't ever see me ever losing my buzz for these truly remarkable insects.  

*End of 2020 update: Garden 'list' by then reached 464 macro species. 

This Blog will constantly evolve ... I'm currently getting the basics uploaded and when this is finished I will then start the inevitable padding out process of adding more and more information about this as a recording site of sorts. I think that it might take another month or so to get it into a basic form, but I doubt that it will ever be a finished product? I will always play around with the set up and alter things that I don't like too much with my initial layout knowing me? 

I've spent thousands of hours mulling around the traps, taking photos, making 'many' moth traps, trawling the interweb for info and writing up records, there are few people who could even put the effort into their garden traps as I have, even if they had the time and inclination. My mania has once again found a satisfying project, I only wish that I'd listened to Franny a few years earlier than I did, as the first time I looked into a moth trap it proved without any exaggeration to be a life changing event for me. 

And now for the gut wrenchingly cringeworthy bit ... egghh. 

Over the years I've received much help from the local moth/birding community and though it pains me to admit to it, 'mostly' from the Hairy Android from Mothsville, mister Francis Solly. His knowledge far surpasses the rest of us lot put together* (times about one hundred too) and has been put to good use by me and many others over the years. He ferried me around all the East Kent moth spots, putting up with with all my moods, idiosyncrasies and waffle mouthed stupidity and for that alone deserves a medal. He has also showed me more rare moths that any other human on planet earth, not that he's a real proper human of course, but you get my drift perhaps? Other people include my little mate Gadget (four feet one in high heels and more front than Selfridge's) who provided me with various help, including a taxi service, help with obtaining digital cameras and on occasion the odd moth or two. His main purpose in life is of course as a useful source of ridicule due to his ridiculous lack of height, but that's another story, written about in some length in other avenues of my twisted writings. Lastly, thanks go to the man with the gob and an attitude to match, Mister Dylan Wrathall, who again ferried me around a few mothing spots in the old days, providing a portable generator, ale (mostly consumed by him of course) good, honest 'in yer face' opinions and on occasion, wood and perspex for the building of moth traps. Good on you all. 

*I can write what I want about Franny as he'll never ever set eyes on this Blog. He doesn't do Blogs ... he says "They are boring" ... and once again, who in their right mind can argue with him? He's right ... they are boring, self indulgent and full of worthless waffle in the main. 

Until about 2001 or 2002 I always used to use just one trap, a 125 watt MV home made jobby which I rebuilt/modified about half a dozen times.  That original trap, built in hamfisted fashion by an semi insane impatient neanderthal was a square Robinson type thing (with a central funnel) that was so large (about two and a half foot square by one foot tall) that it allowed a fair few rebuilds as I cut it down, making it smaller and smaller until sense prevailed and I had a serious rethink about the design of such a contraption. I then moved on to making some more sensible sized Skinner type traps [the initial trap I made was about half the size of the average garden shed] but was never totally happy with any of them. Eventually, after designing a trap that worked for me (i.e. one that both caught moths and made escape as unlikely as was humanly possible) I started running two traps, something that I've been doing now for about ten years or more as it definitely pulls in far more moths. I've probably built in excess of a dozen traps for personal use in total (plus a fair few extra's for other people too) and have now arrived at a design that I am more or less totally happy with ... these sorts of things ... 

Above: My favourite design ... currently still in use. 

... and some not so good experiments ..

It's quite good fun running a homemade trap for the first time even if they can be a bit of a pain to build for the most part. I usually build them from bits and pieces that I scrounge off friends as it can be surprisingly expensive buying all of the wood and perspex from new. The wood for the traps in the photograph was stuff left over from a bathroom refit ... the perspex came via Daisy, my mate and top birding companion. 

The habitat here (on the western edge of Ramsgate in Kent) is a bit sparse, being on the edge of a large housing Estate. The adjoining gardens form a circle of perhaps half an acre or more which contain a few exotic shrubs but also mint, plus a few other garden herbs, as well as patches of Bramble, Privet, Lilac, Buddleia, Pear, Bird Cherry*, a few Sycamores and a large Ash tree. There used to be a few Apple Trees, Plum and 'a' Gooseberry Bush, but they have long been pulled out/dug up and concreted over. The gardens here are fairly sheltered too which helps. Beyond the housing Estate there are many acres of farm land with small coppices and hedgerows and to the south is the coast, which is about a quarter/half of a mile away. I get a fair few wandering species, even some scarce continental migrants on occasion as we are only about 25 miles from Calais as the crow flies.  

So, there you have it ... the worlds dullest ever Blog. All Blogs are self centred and blinkered as touched upon earlier, but can be fun to play around with if you're mentally deficient and have a bit of time to waste like me? There aren't too many around like me of course, which is perhaps just as well. 

*Our twenty/thirty year old Bird Cherry Tree sadly got blown over in the gales hitting this part of the world in March 2019. 

Das Blogist, Ramsgate in Kent, 19th May 2014. 

Ciao dudes ... 


And now by (un) popular request ...

Well ... a slight exaggeration perhaps? After I posted a couple of photos of my home made traps on this dull and boring Blog, I received an e-mail off a fellow moth nut, asking about the dimensions and moth retaining qualities of my bodged up traps? The poor fellow did indeed put a comment on the Blog itself but never being one to check my own Blog, this was overlooked ... so sorry TM, at least you did have my e-mail address, so no harm done. 

I have on occasion been asked face to face about making traps, so I thought it would be a good idea to post a few photos and comments about the pitfalls, of which there are many in my experience. Over the years I have made, designed and re-designed MANY moth traps and the type that I settled on were the best that I could come up with for my back garden ... they may well not be for anyone else's? The best moth traps are those rather expensive, circular, plastic Robinson designed traps ... they require only a slight modification to the inside of the funnel (namely a six inch long plastic tube fitted so as to make it harder for moths to escape) and hey presto you have about as perfect a moth trap as you'll ever get. They are light, totally waterproof, long lasting, being made out of plastic (my wooden one's rot and need rebuilding after a few years) and once again, unlike my home made jobbies, don't fall to bits! The pro's about designing your own traps are mainly that it's quite satisfying ... I always get a slight buzz running trap for the first time (of course I'm not very well in the head) it's also a bit of fun trying to solve various problems that arise whilst making ad hoc traps from bits and pieces of this and that of leftovers, or things scrounged from mates such as Dylan 'the gob' Wrathall, Daisy Sammels and Monsieur no-legs himself, my little micro mate Gadget.  

After all my pontificating about the wonders of the Robinson trap, for the area where I run my two garden traps, I actually think that a Skinner design is probably more practical than a Robinson? To try and explain this seeming contradiction in terms; when I first started running a trap in my garden back in 1999, I used to position 'one' Robinson type trap smack in the middle of my roughly rectangle 10 x 30 metre north facing back garden. In time I started to notice moths sitting on the back wall of my house (which is painted white) also all along the nearby wooden fence, so I started re-positioning my traps nearer and nearer to the back wall of the house, until I realised that the best spot was hard up against the house wall. What in effect I ended up with was a slight sheet effect, the sort of tactic employed by moth trappers in which a horizontally hung white sheet is suspended next to a MV bulb - anyway after I tried this the catch rate was obviously improved. I then tried running two traps, the second about ten yards away from the north facing 'house' trap ... this one was sheltered behind a east facing white concrete shed wall, creating the same 'sheet effect' ... both white surfaces were lit up and I'm sure that it was drawing in even more moths. Ever since I've run this configuration of two 125 watt MV Skinner traps placed flat against these large white surfaces and I've not once ever doubted it's effectiveness. It also has the bonus effect of shining away from the back windows of the nearby neighbours houses (not that I had any complaints from them)  and with the next row of houses being 40 plus meters away, my conscience was eased somewhat - as was my paranoia, due to being able to check the traps whilst being very close to the back of my own house rather than wandering around in the middle of a suburban garden lit up like a Christmas tree. I have had a few visits from the police in the past, after being reported for wandering around 'suspiciously'  in the middle of the night, but only once since I've had the traps right up against the back wall of the house. 

A good moth trap should be good at attracting and 'trapping' visiting moths, keep the occupants inside them as much as is humanly possible, shouldn't have any sharp angled moth damaging corners (my main gripe with shop brought/designed Skinner traps, which is easily remedied with a slight modification to the otherwise excellent design)  and lastly ... NOT LEAK! All these problems have been mulled over in great detail by my good self and in the main have been overcome, never totally eradicated perhaps but the numbers are stacked in my favour nowadays I'd say? My design does have issues, the main one being that they fall to bits, something that could be fixed 'if' I made them out of a sheet polythene type plastic instead of the plywood I've been using (I'm not too bothered ... when they go rotten I just build another one) and another being that they are not very portable, being rather heavy by comparison with the plastic Robinson traps - once again this isn't a real issue for me as my traps are never transported very far, in fact one never gets moved (well until it disintegrates and replaced) and the other only does a ten yard journey there and back once every night/day, when it gets placed next to the other one, covered over to keep the light out etc until it get emptied the following afternoon and re set up for another nights trapping.  

Right so that's the introduction 'intro' over and done with ... 

Step one ... the bits ... 

Above: the end section with 'rough' measurements ... well accurate measurements for the one's that I use. I will upload some better diagrams when I can get round to sorting it out. I've realised since writing the following that it's a bit random ... a few better diagrams world have sufficed. 

The above badly drawn diagram, written in rough about two years ago, which hangs on my bedroom wall (not a joke .. I'm nothing if not manic) shows the end section/dimensions ... I recommend sticking to this rough size as it can accommodate just about the right amount of egg boxes, whilst being large enough to cope with August/September sized catches as well as smaller spring and late autumn catches. In the past I have built [and thereafter used] enormous traps, which proved in time to be utterly ridiculous ... I also have a smaller/lower in height trap for use between October and April, which fell to bits and I never replaced, mostly out of laziness as I do like smaller traps for non summer mothing. They have the advantage of being easier to empty when you are only catching twenty or so moths (give or take) and I think that moths tend to go into lower traps a bit more easily as there is less room around the trap? Ideally, to my way of thinking anyway, the best way of running a moth trap would be to have the bulb flush with the floor at ground level as it would eradicate as much as is possible, moths bumbling around and then settling on the ground outside of the trap, as some species often do (i.e. Leopard Moths never get into the trap etc) ... that said, even I wouldn't go to the lengths of digging holes in the garden to bury a moth trap! Or would I ... Hmmm? You do also need to think about the size of the trap, as during annoying mass arrivals of unsettling nut-case species such as Dark Arches and those dreaded Large Yellow Underwings which go so bonkers when trapped, it's best to have a bit of room in the form of layers of egg boxes, where already settled moths can hide away. The disturbance caused by a few manic Large Yellow Underwings can upset the entire trap if you're not careful and when there are 100+ of them as can happen, it's best to add this into the equation. Many a good moth has escaped no doubt, due to those madcap Large Yellow Underwings whizzing round the inside of the traps.

By the way, if you're confused as to the the red shaded area at the edge of the trap in the above diagram, then perhaps it's easier to make sense of by looking at this photo ...

... the two red shaded areas (see diagram) are some thin wood, just about thick enough to hold some screws in (10 - 15ml) which are fixed to each end plate on the 'outside' end and 'before' the trap sides are fitted. If these bits of wood are fitted prior to fixing, they can be cut to the exact size and angle of the end of the trap which helps later on when the perspex is fitted, it being one smooth cut with no humps/bumps which can cause gaps, potentially letting in water or letting out a few micro species. Any gaps need to be eradicated, for obvious reasons. It also allows a clean hollow box inside with no supports, so just fix the structural bits at the outset (with screws from the inside of the trap) and bob's your uncle.

The above trap isn't of the size that I actually use, I made this one for a friend. The dimensions of the one I am about to describe is a tad more square, not rectangle as this one is. To be honest this was a failed experiment even though it works perfectly well. It also lacks the cut out (see diagram) to allow easier moth access from the middle of each end.

The sides of the trap measures at least 18/19 inches so as to accommodate one and a half lengths of 4 x 4 [i.e. 16 egg] boxes ... more of that later. Once the ends are cut out, fix on the sides making sure that they are properly square ... well as much as is possible. The more square they are initially, the easier it will be to measure and fix bits later on.

'Bits' you'll need that come to mind will be ...

A large sheet of Plywood = c5mm, though I have used slightly thinner and some as thick as about 10ml. 

4 'bits' of thin wood c. 2 inch by about half an inch for the end fitting 'bits' i.e. red shaded areas on diagram. 

4  long thin 'bits' of wood for the floor frame and water outlet . They are structural so need to be both straight and fairly strong. 

Some decent plexi glass/perspex between 3 and 5mm thick. 

Some thin metal gauze (or equivalent) to allow water to run away. I'm unsure where to purchase this ... my mate (Bead's) sent me over a 'bunch' of it from Canada ... enough for twenty traps. They use it in hot countries to allow airflow through open doors and windows without having your house overrun with insects. 

Some thin plastic 'bits' for runners (explanation to follow) 'gap plugging' and the funnel, which can also be made from two excess lengths of perspex if you so choose? 

18  million screws of various lengths and thickness's plus some paint/varnish to finish/waterproof/weatherproof the finished wooden mothy thing from the elements. Also some electrics (a choke) a bulb holder and a Pyrex bowl. Oh yes ... a tube of bathroom sealant ... an essential item for filling in those annoying gaps. 

Das floor

Next cut four lengths of long thin wood and fix to the bottom edge of the end of the trap ... place two along the bottom edge of each side and fix into position, then fix two pieces in the middle onto which you can place some metal gauze which allows water to run out. You can then fit the flat floor panels, as I have already done in the photo below. Once fixed, seal any gapes with bathroom sealant and the 'box' part will be complete.

From below it should look something like this ... though perhaps a bit tidier than the one in the following photo ...

Above: showing the four 'long thin bits' of wood in position from below after the flat floor has been fixed inside the trap. 

It is a very simple thing to construct as long as you can measure and cut fairly accurately. These days I actually use a hand saw ... I used to use an electric jigsaw, but prefer the non-electric 17th century approach these days ...

Coming soon ... THE NEXT BIT!! Exciting eh? No?? Oh well??

... lets start off with another photo ...

The above two photos show what you'll be aiming to achieve, plus a chefy deconstruction (below) showing the pull off 'bits' ... those perspex side panels come away too ... I forgot to remove them for the photo. The reason for using those perspex side panels is to both allow the use of a larger box, whilst allowing a narrower slot for the funnel. This also eradicates the biggest floor that I've yet found in the usual, more simple Skinner type design, which have a very narrow angle inside the trap along the side into which many moths damage themselves. Many years ago we were using a Skinner trap in the woods at East Blean on a remarkable night where many thousands of mainly Green Oak Tortrixes were on the wing ... I've never seen anything like it. Anyway, many of the moths were crammed into the angled gap and mutilating themselves, so on getting home I had a rethink and came up with this design. It takes far longer to build than the usual single perspex design but is well worth it. It's also a nicer place into which to arrange the egg boxes as the extra space you have created allows a stack of egg boxes reaching up as high as you want them to, you can't do this with a normal type Skinner trap which are too narrow the higher you go.

... and here's how the side bits fit on ... I use two angled 'bits' of plastic or wood which should fit so that there is no gap, hence the angled cut. The ends should overhang the edge of the trap to prevent water getting in.

The Innards ... the guts ... the unseen 'bits' ... 

Ah ... what fun you'll have if you try my own little tried and tested mothy recipe. It's all just common sense of course ...

Above: the 'guts' ... the funnel and the plastic runners on which the main perspex sits and channel water towards the gauze 'bit' ...

The next step is to fit the funnel (or whatever the terminology for such a thing is??) a part of which is used as a stopper which forms the gap into which the moth falls. Find your own solution for this ... there are many, two of which are illustrated above. In the top photo I used a 1 inch solid piece of plastic cut from a 'bit' of excess soffet/fascia board ... useful stuff for moth trap building. On the lower trap I used a 1 inch square of  Perspex to act as a spacer ... note that it must jut up above the funnel itself, as it also doubles up as a stopper against which the large pieces of perspex slide up to once the trap is assembled and ready to use.

Now we come to a big question ... or three ... or four ...

How big should the gap be between:

A: The two pieces of perspex/plastic forming the gap?

B: The bottom of the funnel and the floor of the moth trap?

C: Should the two pieces of perspex/plastic forming the gap and funnel allow light to pass through them?

D: There is no question D ... I just used it for dramatic effect ... did it work? Yeah ... I thought it would?

To which 'my' answers would be ... to A: 1 inch ... the smaller the gap the better for retention and the larger the better for the moths to fall in ... 1 inch would seem (after much experimentation I might add) to be the correct compromise? I catch large things such as Privet Hawks, plus large and bulky female Poplar Hawks, whilst large Geometrids and wide things like Old Ladies (the moth not the Octogenarian human of the female persuasion) fall in very easily ... the large Hawk Moths fall in eventually, some times after after getting stuck in limbo for 30 seconds, I've watched lots of them, T-boned above the slot and they never escape due to the well proven scientific theory of gravity (so NOT a theory then you idiotic berk Milton) once in they are in ... or when almost in they are eventually in ... if that makes any sense? I am trying not to make this not too Monty Python ... honest.

My answer to B would be ... er dunno?? About one and a half inch ... a maximum of two, though I go for the former myself.

My answer to question C is similarly vague, as I'm not too sure? I have used both clear perspex and a painted plastic which allows no light in and haven't honestly noticed any difference?? I like the 'idea' of the only visible light coming from the bulb above the moth once in the trap which makes them fly upwards away from the slot they've just fallen into but whether or not this works in practise is open to ... er ... wotsisname?? It's probably quite random anyway with a bumbling moth ... time and circumstance = a bird in a bush??

My answer to D would be the writer is an utterly irritating idiotic moron, having a very poor attempt at appalling, childish humour.

You may well be wondering what on earth the 'runners' are? I use them to channel any rain water down towards the gauze slot in the bottom of the trap ... they also fill in any inevitable small gaps between the perspex and the inside of the trap. Fit them so that the main bit of perspex sits flat on top of the runners ... then just run a pencil line along the top of the perspex to show the exact angle, allow for the perspex width and fix. Don't use anything too thick for the runners, as moths will hide underneath them ... also, fill in any gaps with bathroom sealant after angling the edge so no water runs into the trap. There is nothing worse that soggy egg-boxes ... well a few things perhaps? Liverpool FC agonisingly losing the league at the last moment this year springs to mind as one 'worse' thing?

Gaps, dreaded gaps!!

Gaps MUST be eradicated ... it's against all moth trap rules to have gaps. Once all the wood and perspex are cut to size there may well be a few gaps ... when you use thicker perspex almost inevitably you'll get a gap here ...

Above: a stunning photo of ... a gap! Aghh ... a ghastly thing ... take it away - take it away!! 

This has just reminded me ... I forgot to mention the piece of whatever (a thin cut length of plastic soffet/fascia board in this instance) that runs along the outside edge of the main piece of perspex to both stiffen the whole things up (useful in windy conditions) and fill in any small gaps, but note this will eventually be cut off flush to the end of the smaller end flap piece of perspex underneath it (top left as viewed in the photo) when I took this photo I hadn't as yet cut it. It's not a flat cut, but needs to be shaped and angled so as to fit the shallow angle created at the rear of the perspex ... I just clamp it to a black and decker workmate and gradually wear it into shape with a large file.

It also comes in useful for fitting/affixing this bit ... the legendary 'plastic gap filler' ...

Above: another photo ... yawn ..

... and the boring 'bit' in position. Take it from me it works.

Once the above is fixed (note: once again made from another bit of fascia board, one of the worlds most versatile materials ... I could make an F1 car from two lengths of fascia board, a roll of Duct tape, two tubes of super glue and a packet of Blu Tack)

Anyway ... as you might note, if you can get this 'bit' to fit snugly it does help to hold everything in position ... useful once again in strong winds, world wars, earthquakes etc. I then cut the excess bit off flush along the line of the rear facing bit of perspex and it's finished ... well almost.

next we come to ...

The Bulb Holder ... er crossbeam member .. er um ... flap thingamy widget?? 

It takes a fair 'while' to build this bit ... you'll need a 'bit' of thin but strong wood, as long as the trap is wide (say 17 or 18 inches long and 1 inch by half an inch in width?) plus some more perspex ... oh yes, a bulb holder (ceramic preferably, brass will suffice) which need to be cut to shape so you can balance a Pyrex bowl to cover the hot bulb in case of rain. I have two solutions ... "ve haff vays of keeping das rain off unt hot bulb" ...

 Above: The four and two vane crossbeam thingamy's ...

They both work equally well it would appear? The vanes acts as crash barriers ... a moth will hit them and fall down into the trap, well most do. In the left hand version I've cut two pieces of wood and screwed them into position through the main crossbeam. They are not actually opposing (you can't do this as the first one is in the way of the other) but are each set just off centre, to allow the rear screw access. I cut the perspex into shape with a sharp wood handsaw or a hacksaw. Note in the left hand version the Pyrex bowl fits into the angles cut into the perspex so as to hold onto it so tightly that it cant fall out ... a fiddly job but worth the effort of doing it. The other solution (the one on the right in the above photo)  was made by using two W shaped pieces of perspex, then a piece of wire (or string) is required to stop the bowl falling out and breaking. It needs to be fixed in some way to stop any rain getting in whilst not in use, as it would be when running at night. You can have a removable Pyrex bowl, but sooner or later you'll break one, or it'll fall out and rain will leak into your bulb holder behind the exposed bulb.

To hold the crossbeams in position, I usually just fix two thin pieces of white plastic (cut from the superb, all encompassing, Fascia board plastic yet again)  like so ...

I've as yet never had any problems using this method even though it does look a bit cack!

Egg Boxes

Egg box arrangement is more important than you might think ... I shudder at some of the traps I've seen on TV with Egg boxes strewn here and there with absolutely no thought attached to the type of structure you're trying to build for the moths to settle into. Moths like cracks and gaps to crawl into, often out of the light (which I find odd?) though not always and this is best achieved by stacking them like so ...

You'll notice the boxes are 16 egg cartons split into either eights or fours and layered in opposite file so they stand up better. I get all my egg boxes delivered to my door by 'my boy' or F.N. Solly to you or anyone else. He acquires them (third hand I think?) from those horrible greasy Joe mobile roadside artery clogging boutiques of convenience so prevalent in this vile world ... they were all colourful when he first delivered them, blue and purple ... they went grey (like we all do) over time. It's such a shame you know, as a moth trap with some brand spanking new egg boxes is a beautiful thing to behold ... I'm in need of some new one's (and some therapy?) as my last vast stack of a supply has unfortunately run out ... SOLLY!! 'ELP ME SOLLY ... get me some new egg boxes Solly!!

Once you've got one of these ... sort out some electrics, plug it in and you're up and running.

So there you have it ... everything you (mainly) didn't want to know about building a moth trap. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Next ...

My garden moth photos 'and' extra added info at no further cost ... 

'Extra added also' ... please note; - although I've written out the habitat and food plant etc for each and every species included from hereon, I didn't actually have all this information floating around in my head ... I nicked it out of a book of course. There's only one human on planet earth who has all this sort of information instantly accessible from his internal hard-drive, and I've already given him more accolades than might be warranted. 

Hepialidae - Swift Moths

0014 Hepialus humuli humuli - Ghost Moth



Status: Notable.

Habitat/Food plant: Open grassy or weedy places. The larval food plants are the roots of various grasses and Common Nettle, Docks, Burdocks and Wild Strawberry.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, on the wing from June till early August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Eight records here, six of which were seen in 2008 and 2016.

The annual counts have been:

1999 = 0.    2000 = 1.    2001 = 0.    2002 = 0.    2003 = 0.    2004 = 0.    2005 = 0.    2006 = 0.    2007 = 0.    2008 = 3.    2009 = 1.

2010 = 2.    2011 = 0.    2012 = 0.    2013 = 0.     2014 = 0.     2015 = 0.    2016 = 3.   2017 = 0.    2018 = 0.     2019 = 0.   2020 = 1.   2021 = 

Earliest date: 17th June 2008 and 2020. 

Latest date: 16th July 2010.

Peak count: Singles only.

0015 Hepialus sylvina - Orange Swift


Status: Common.

Habitat/Food plant: Rough grassy places, gardens, roadside verges, open woodland etc. The larvae feeds on the roots of many herbaceous plants including Broad-leaved Dock, Dandelions, Bracken and probably grasses too.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded flying from late July till September.

1999 - 2020 garden records: A common species often occurring in double figure numbers.

Earliest date: 25th July 2009.

Latest date: 27th September 2011.

Peak count: 31 moths, on 20th August 2000.

0017 Hepialus lupulinus - Common Swift



Status: Common.

Habitat/Food plant: Open grassland where the larval stage feeds on the roots of grasses and many herbaceous plants.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying from May till July.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Catches often exceed double figures here.

Earliest date: 23rd April 2014.

Latest date: 7th July in 2007 and 2013.

Peak count: 28 moths in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Cossidae - Leopard and Goat Moths

0161 Zeuzera pyrina - Leopard Moth

Status: Notable.

Habitat/Food plant: A moth of open woodland and scrub that also occurs in gardens and parks etc. The larval food plants are many woody plants including Willow, Blackthorn, Plum, Cherry, Hawthorn, Apple, Pear, Privet, Ash, Elm, Oaks, Beech, Wayfaring-tree, Honeysuckle and Lilac.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying from late June till early August.

1999 - 2019 garden records:

The annual counts have been:

1999 = 0.    2000 = 1.    2001 = 1.    2002 = 0.    2003 = 1.    2004 = 2.    2005 = 2.    2006 = 2.    2007 = 2.    2008 = 4.    2009 = 1.

2010 = 1.    2011 = 1.    2012 = 0.    2013 = 0.    2014 = 2.    2015 = 1.    2016 = 2.    2018 = 3.    2019 = 0.   2020 = 3/2.   2021 = 

Earliest date: 25th June 2020. 

Latest date: 10th August 2007.

Peak count: Singles only.

0162 Cossus cossus - Goat Moth

I caught this Goat Moth during a rather epic July thunderstorm in 2019. It was fresh as daisy, scale perfect originally but lost lots of scales after going potty (in a pot) in the fridge. It's still rather impressive even though it did mess itself up a bit.

Status: Rare.

Habitat/Food plant: Riverbanks, Fens, Mashes, woodland edges etc. The larval stage feeds under the bark of a variety of trees including fruit trees, willows, Oaks, Ash, Birch etc. The caterpillar overwinters for three to four years before pupating.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying in June and July.

1999 - 2020 garden records:

One, taken on 19th July 2019.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.


0173 Apoda limacodes - Festoon

Status: rare.

Habitat/Food plant: Mainly broadleaved woodland or wooded heath land. The larval foods are mostly Oak but also Beech.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying in June and July.

1999 - 2020 garden records: One record, on 6th July 2017.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.

Lasiocampidae - Eggar moths

1631 Poecilocampa populi - December Moth

Status: Notable.

Habitat/Food plant: Most numerous in woodland but also occurs in smaller numbers around rough ground, gardens etc. The larval food plants are many broadleaved trees including Oak, Birch, Elm, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Poplar and Sallows.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, on the wing from late October till early January.

1999 - 2019 garden records: 11 records.

The annual counts have been:

1999 = 2.    2000 = 0.    2001 = 1.    2002 = 1.    2003 = 0.    2004 = 0.    2005 = 1.    2006 = 0.    2007 = 1.    2008 = 2.    2009 = 0.

2010 = 0.    2011 = 3.    2012 = 0.    2013 = 0.    2014 = 0.     2015 = 0.   2016 = 0.   2017 = 0.    2018 = 0.    2019 = 0.   2020 = 

Earliest date: 24th November 2001.

Latest date: 1st January 2011.

Peak count: singles only.

1634 Malacosoma neustria - Lackey

Status: Once fairly common but since showing signs of decline, in fact in 2015 I took none at all.

Habitat/Food plant: A moth of open areas such as woodland, gardens, parks, hedgerows etc. The larval food plants are many varieties of broadleaved tree and shrub including Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Cherry, Plum, Apple, Oak, Willow etc.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying in July and August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: As a child the many apple trees around the adjacent gardens would be festooned with Lacky caterpillars. The fruit trees have long since been removed, many years prior to me running my moth trap anyway, to be replaced with sterile, featureless lawns with plastic garden furniture. Although initially during my early years of moth hunting the adult moths were still fairly common, numbers have nosedived dramatically since and even though they are still recorded annually here, they occur in ever decreasing numbers.

The annual head counts have been:

1999 = ?.    2000 = 30+.    2001 = 15+.    2002 = 10.    2003 = 20+.    2004 = 20+.    2005 = 30+.    2006 = ?.    2007 = 30+.    2008 = 11.    2009 = 13.

2010 = 11.    2011 = 3.    2012 = 3.    2013 = 8.    2014 = 10.    2015 = 0.   2016 = 1.   2017 = 0.    2018 = 0.    2019 = 1.   2020 = 2.   2021 = 

Earliest date: 23rd June 2014.

Latest date: 14th August 2000.

Peak count: 6 moths, one night in 2005.

1635 Malacosoma castrensis - Ground Lackey

Status: rare.

Habitat/Food plant: Salt marshes and coastal shingle where the larvae feed on a variety of salt marsh plants such as Sea Plantain, Sea Lavender, Sea Wormwood, Sea-purslane, Grass-leaved Orache and Golden Samphire.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying in July and August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: One record, on 3rd August 2005.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.

1637 Lasiocampa quercus - Oak Eggar



Status: Annual in very small numbers.

Habitat/Food plant: A moths that occurs pretty much anywhere on lowland habitat, including Heaths, Moorland, Woodland, coastal dune etc. The larval food plants include Heather, Bilberry, Bramble, Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Sallow, Hazel, Sea Buckthorn, Garden Privet and Ivy.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying in July and August.

1999 - 2019 garden records: 90% of the records at light are female moth, the males are always notable here. I have on occasion seen day flying males around the gardens though they are rarely seen in the traps.

The annual counts have been:

1999 = 3.    2000 = 0.    2001 = 3.    2002 = 3.    2003 = 2.    2004 = 5.    2005 = 2.    2006 = 1.    2007 = 2.    2008 = 3.    2009 = 2.

2010 = 2.    2011 = 2.    2012 = 5.    2013 = 2.    2014 = 2.    2015 = 1.    2016 = 1.    2017 = 1.    2018 = 3.    2019 = 6.   2020 = 3. 

Earliest date: 5th July 2001.

Latest date: 16th August 2021. 

Peak count: 2 females at light on 24th July 2004. I also once saw two males attracted to the same area my privet hedge, so no doubt a female was lurking.

1638 Macrothylacia rubi - Fox Moth

Status: Scarce though fairly common half a mile away around the coast. 

Habitat/Food plant: Damp Meadows, moorland, downland, sand dunes, open meadow etc.The larval food plants include Bramble, Heather and Meadowsweet. 

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying in May and June. 

1999 - 2020 garden records: One record of a day flying male seen late May 2010. 

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a. 

1640 Euthrix potatoria - Drinker

Status: Rare.

Habitat/Food plant: Damp grassland and marsh. The larval food plants are various course grasses and reeds.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded flying in July and August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: One record, on 24th July 2010.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.

Drepanidae - Hook-tips

1645 Falcaria lacertinaria - Scalloped Hook-tip

Status: Scarce.

Habitat/Food plant: Usually woodland and scrub etc. The larval food plants are Downy and Silver Birch.

Broods/flight period: Two generations, flying from April till June then late July and August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: 1 on 26th July 2018.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.

1646 Watsonalla binaria - Oak Hook-tip

Status: Scarce.

Habitat/Food plant: Mainly oak woodland but also parks, scrub land, gardens etc. The larval food plants are various Oaks plus on occasion Silver Birch.

Broods/flight period: Two generations, flying in May and June then late July till September.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Seven records here, taken on 2/08/2005, 9/09/2006, 7/06/2010, 16/08/2013, 12/08/2018, 16/09/2018 and 2nd June 2019.

Earliest date: 7th June 2010.

Latest date: 9th September 2006 and 2021. 

Peak count: 2 on September 9th 2021. 

1647 Watsonalla cultaria - Barred Hook-tip

Status: Scarce.

Habitat/Food plant: Birch woodland or areas where there are old isolated Birches. Birch is the larval food plant. 

Broods/flight period: Two generations, flying in May and June then late July till early September.

1999 - 2020 garden records: One on 31st July 2020. 

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a. 

1648 Drepana falcataria falcataria - Pebble Hook-tip

Status: Scarce.

Habitat/Food plant: Woodland and other areas with Birch scrub. The larval food plants are Birch and Alder.

Broods/flight period: Two generations, flying in April till June then late July till September.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Seven records, taken on 30/07/02, 14/08/02, 7/08/10, 29/05/11, 14/08/13, 25/07/2018 and 21/07/2019.

Earliest date: 29th May 2011.

Latest date: 14th August in both 2002 and 2013.

Peak count: Singles only.

1651 Cilix glaucata - Chinese Character

Status: Irregular, though showing a marked increase in the latter years.

Habitat/Food plant: Hedgerows, scrub and open woodland. The larval food plants include Bramble, Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Crab Apple, Rowan and Pear.

Broods/flight period: Double brooded, flying from April till June and July till September.

1999 - 2020 garden records: During the early days of trapping here they were fairly scarce. Numbers increased hand over fist during the middle 2000's but even then overall numbers vary substantially here.

Earliest date: 15th April 2011.

Latest date: 11th September in both 2010 and 2012.

Peak count: A maximum of three in 2016.


1652 Thyatira batis - Peach Blossom

Status: Rare.

Habitat/Food plant: Light woodland and scrub. The larval food plant is Bramble.

Broods/flight period: Usually single brooded, flying from late May till July.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Five records, all single moths on 8th July 2003, 18th June 2006, 26th June 2008, 17th June 2009 and 24th September 2014. 

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.

1653 Habrosyne pyritoides - Buff Arches

Status: Regular in small numbers though showing steep decline in latter years.

Habitat/Food plant: Open woodland and scrubby areas where Bramble grows. The larval food plants are Bramble, Dewberry ... possibly also Raspberry?

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying from June till early August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Numbers were reasonably stable here during the first decade of trapping though numbers are starting to drop off this past five years or so.

Earliest date: 11th June 2003.

Latest date: 6th August 2002.

Peak count: 8 Moths, taken on 9th July 2003.

1654 Tethea ocularis - Figure of Eighty

Above: The dark, sooty form and the more usual greyer version

Status: Caught in small numbers 'almost' annually.

Habitat/Food plant: A wide variety of habitats are used ... the larvae feed on Aspen and other Poplars.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded flying from late May till July.

1999 - 2019 garden records: Never numerous and is always a nice moth to see settled amongst the egg boxes.

The annual counts have been:

1999 = 0.    2000 = 1.    2001 = 4.    2002 = 5.    2003 = 9.    2004 = c.12.    2005 = 4.    2006 = 6.    2007 = 5.    2008 = 2.    2009 = 4.

2010 = 6.    2011 = 2.    2012 = 1.    2013 = 3.    2014 = 6.     2015 = 0.      2016 = 1.     2017 = 1.    2018 = 6.    2019 = 2.   2020 = 5. 

Earliest date: 17th May 2014.

Latest date: 16th July 2002.

Peak count: 3 moths, on 7th June 2004.

1655 Tethea or or - Poplar Lutestring

Status: Rare.

Habitat/Food plant: Mainly broadleaved woodland. The larval food plant is mainly Aspen though it will take other Poplar on occasion.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, on the wing from late May till early August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Just one record here, taken on 21st May 2002.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.

1656 Tetheela fluctuosa - Satin Lutestring

Status: Rare.

Habitat/Food plant: A moth of mature broadleaved woodland. The larval food plant is mainly Birch.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying from June till early August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: One record, taken on 25th July 2012.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.

1657 Ochrapacha duplaris - Common Lutestring

Status: Notable.

Habitat/Food plant: Light woodland and scrub. The larval food plant is mainly Birch but has been reported on Alder, Hazel and Oaks.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, flying from mid June till August.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Sixteen records here.

The annual counts have been:

1999 = 0.    2000 = 0.    2001 = 3.    2002 = 0.    2003 = 1.    2004 = 2.    2005 = 1.    2006 = 1.    2007 = 0.    2008 = 0.    2009 = 0.

2010 = 2.    2011 = 1.    2012 = 1.    2013 = 1.    2014 = 1.    2015 = 1.    2016 = 0.   2017 = 0.    2018 = 1.    2019 = 0.   2020 = 2. 

Earliest date: 8th June 2003.

Latest date: 21th July 2001.

Peak count: Singles only.

1658 Cymatophorima diluta - Oak Lutestring

Status: Rare.

Habitat/Food plant: A moth mainly of long established broadleaved woodland. The larval food plant is Oak.

Broods/flight period: Single brooded, on the wing from late August till early October.

1999 - 2020 garden records: Three records here, on 7th October 2006, 20th October 2008 and 18th September 2018.

Earliest date: n/a.

Latest date: n/a.

Peak count: n/a.