THE MOTH AND THE IVY
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.”