THE MOTH AND THE IVY

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild October - CHRIS PACK­HAM’S PACK GET IN­VOLVED This year’s Moth Night is on 12–14 Oc­to­ber: www.moth­night.info

As more peo­ple dis­cover the joys of ‘moth­ing’, as­sisted by a new gen­er­a­tion of field guides with stun­ning il­lus­tra­tions, our na­tional moth list is grow­ing steadily and knowl­edge of moth dis­tri­bu­tion is be­ing trans­formed. Iden­ti­fy­ing th­ese di­verse in­sects can nonethe­less be tricky – the large fam­ily Noc­tu­idae is es­pe­cially no­to­ri­ous, with many sub­tly dif­fer­ent species – but an army of fel­low en­thu­si­asts will help you put a name to your pho­tos if you share them on so­cial me­dia or web­sites such as iRecord. Even a small gar­den can be home to dozens of kinds of moth.

One way of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing moths is to leave out a (harm­less) trap that uses a mer­cury vapour lamp or ac­tinic tube to at­tract them overnight. But that’s not es­sen­tial. “Our theme for this year’s Moth Night is ivy,” says avid ‘moth-er’ Richard Fox of But­ter­fly Con­ser­va­tion. “Ivy flow­ers late when few other na­tive plants are in bloom, so it’s a sea­sonal bo­nanza, bril­liant for moths. You don’t need a moth-trap to en­joy it – sim­ply take a torch­light evening sa­fari of your lo­cal patches of flow­er­ing ivy.” Hand­some – and poet­i­cally named – moths you might see re­fu­elling on the blos­som in­clude an­gle shades, pink-barred sal­low, green-brindled cres­cent, yel­low-line quaker and lu­nar un­der­wing.

AF­TER DARK, THE POL­LI­NA­TOR NIGHT­SHIFT TAKES OVER AND A MYR­IAD MOTHS EMERGE TO START FEED­ING.”

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