Tales From The Trap - January 2013 Week 3


It is more important than ever to record moths. Apart from the serious aspect of monitoring populations and distribution, it is also a lot of fun! So, what information do you need to collect?

Ideally, you need to record the following:

  • Species
  • Site
  • Grid Reference
  • Recorder’s name (or names)
  • Determiner
  • Date
  • Quantity
  • Method
  • Sex
  • Stage
  • Comment

Let’s go through each of these items in-turn.

Species – The current British Checklist is *Bradley, J.D., 2000. Checklist of Lepidoptera recorded from the British Isles. Second edition (revised). Use either the English name or scientific name (preferred) and if possible, the code number from the checklist is considered useful.

Site – a name to describe where you recorded; this may be the name of your local woodland or your garden; for the latter, the town/village and street name is ideal.

Grid Reference – The Ordnance Survey grid reference; this can be found by either using a paper map or numerous Internet sites like Ordnance Survey’s own Getamap website – www.getamap.ordnancesurveyleisure.co.uk/. Please try to resolve a grid reference to 6 figures i.e. SY885831.

Recorder’s name (or names) – The name of the individual or individuals who were present during the recording event.

Determiner – The name of a person who confirmed or ‘determined’ the moth. This is not necessarily the same person as the Recorder.

Date – The date of the record. If you are running a light trap, by convention you must note the date the light trap was switched on and not the date of the following morning when you inspected it!

Quantity – The number of individuals for that species.

Method – How the moth was recorded. Examples include Light trap; Daytime observation; Field record. For light traps, 125W MV and 40W Actinic are examples of specific light sources.

Sex – If known.

Stage – The life-stage of the moth i.e. Adult; Pupal; Larval or Egg/Ovum.

Comment – Any other anecdote not covered by the above criteria.

Once you have collated your records, usually annually, you should forward your records to your County Moth Recorder. For further information about the County Moth Recorder network, please visit click here. County Moth Recorders will verify and forward all collated data to the National Moth Recording Scheme where your records are used in all aspects of moth conservation, and more!


Next week, I’ll discuss some of the common methods used for recording your records including biological recording software and bespoke spreadsheets.

* There have been some additions to this list since publication and a brand new British Checklist is due later this year.

Les Hill

Senior Data Manager, National Moth Recording Scheme and Dorset County Macro-moth Recorder

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