National Moth Nights 2017

Text by Pete Marsh

The theme this autumn is all about ivy blossom and the moths which can be found feeding there as soon as darkness falls on the nights of 12th, 13th and 14th . Therefore you don’t have to be a “hard core” moth trapper with MVs scattered all over the countryside (like myself) to take part in this year’s National Moth Nights.  


Spend the next few weeks locating any ivy blossom in a location which can be safely accessed just after dark. Often this might be close to human habitation, including a boundary wall, so ask permission beforehand, especially from the Dobermann! You may find the owners interested in joining you and allowing you to check their side of the boundary.

Obviously a few ‘trial runs’ can be made in the next few weeks, especially in relation to ground conditions and making sure you are not
choosing a site near a huge wasps nest, which can be very active in mid-October, as they will also be present on the ivy bloom after dark and may head for your torchlight.
It is best to be armed with a head-torch (to keep both arms free), which will first reflect in the eyes of the feeding moths, allowing easy location. Some can be identified from “miles away”, for example, Angle Shades, but others may be in the “medium sized brownish” category, so best to take a net and specimen tubes and identify these when you get home.

Here is the final paragraph from the BC publicity: “At this time of year it can be a draw for migrant insects as well as resident species. In recent years birdwatchers on the Isles of Scilly have adopted this method of recording moths with particular effectiveness. You don’t have to be in such far-flung places to adopt this method of recording moths, however, and most places in the country should have ivy blossom within reach”.

There is also an opportunity to record other species during your daytime recce. For example, Ivy Bee Colletes hederae was recorded at both Sunderland Point and Heysham Head last autumn and there are several other records through the region of this scarce insect.

Ivy Bee

The species most likely to be recorded during your survey:
Caloptilia elongella
Plutella xylostella   Diamond-back Moth
Endrosis sarcitrella    White-shouldered House-moth
Agonopterix arenella
Blastobasis lacticolella
Emmelina monodactyla    Common Plume
Epiphyas postvittana    Light Brown Apple Moth
Acleris sparsana
Acleris rhombana Rhomboid Tortrix
Nomophila noctuella    Rush Veneer
Thera britannica     Spruce Carpet
Chloroclysta siterata    Red-Green Carpet
Dysstroma truncata    Common Marbled Carpet
Epirrita dilutata    November Moth
Scoliopteryx libatrix    Herald
Hypena proboscidalis    Snout
Autographa gamma    Silver Y
Allophyes oxyacanthae    Green-brindled Crescent
Phlogophora meticulosa    Angle Shades
Xanthia togata    Pink-barred Sallow
Agrochola lota    Red-line Quaker
Agrochola macilenta    Yellow-line Quaker
Agrochola circellaris    Brick
Conistra vaccinii    Chestnut
Conistra ligula    Dark Chestnut
Lithophane semibrunnea    Tawny Pinion
Lithophane socia    Pale Pinion
Lithophane leautieri     Blair's Shoulder-knot
Xylena vetusta    Red Sword-grass
Eupsilia transversa    Satellite
Griposia aprilina    Merveille du Jour
Aporophyla nigra    Black Rustic
Mythimna unipuncta    American Wainscot or White-speck
Agrotis ipsilon    Dark Sword-grass
Noctua pronuba    Large Yellow Underwing
Xestia xanthographa    Square-spot Rustic
Xestia c-nigrum     Setaceous Hebrew Character

Angle shades on Ivy
If you have not got any moth literature to help with identification,  I recommend that you use the UK
Moths website and try and familiarise yourself with the species on the above list. There ARE other
possibilities, so anything you have difficulty with, please photograph and send to
or the Lancashire Moths Facebook page.

Finally please do send your sightings in with a grid reference. Please could you send direct to
ourselves via or alternatively please send directly to BC (rather than using
IRecord as this creates a bit of extra work extracting records). Thanks very much.