Tales From The Trap - December 2012 Week 2


"Now is the winter of our discontent", well, if the truth be known it’s every winter for me! You can go for days and even weeks without a single record but that is also part of the fun, and those exotic migrant moths can and do turn up during winter if the prevailing conditions are right!

Most recorders do put their traps away over winter which is a shame; however, I encourage all recorders to give winter recording a go! Yes, there can be days on end with nothing to show for it, but surely our winter moth species deserve to be recorded?

I’m often asked at what minimum temperature is it not worth switching on a moth trap? The Rothamsted Insect Survey (http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/insect-survey/) run light traps every day of the year, and a good number of moth recorders run a trap at every opportunity except during inclement weather. However, as a rule-of-thumb, milder winter nights will probably produce moths and temperatures close to freezing may not. Temperature is very subjective and catches will differ throughout the British Isles.

Fact: Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) has its own anti-freeze! If you do see a moth while driving in the countryside during winter it is likely to be this species. Some recorders have been in the right place at the right time and recorded 1,000’s in a single night!

This week saw a milestone in moth recording in the British Isles; I imported the 15 millionth record into the National Moth Recording Scheme database (NMRS), an Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) taken at light in Whitley Bay, Northumberland on 16 March 2012 by T.C. Sexton. The NMRS is going from strength-to-strength with 4 million records having been submitted since the Provisional Atlas of the UK’s Larger Moths was published two years ago.