The Hibernating Herald project is finding out more about the overwintering distribution of Heralds in Scotland. We need your help to find new sites by checking dark corners of unheated outbuildings in your garden or looking in suitable dark places when you are out and about.
Herald moths occur throughout Scotland but don’t come readily to light and are usually only recorded in small numbers in the spring and autumn. They overwinter as an adult moth, sheltering in outhouses, cellars, ruined buildings and caves between October and March. This is one of the easiest times to find them.
To look for Heralds in these places all you need is a torch and a bit of time to search carefully. Heralds tend to rest on ceilings, underneath ledges or high up on walls but can be quite hard to spot.
If you find some, the easiest way to submit your sightings is by joining the Hibernating Heralds Activity on iRecord and entering details of your record there. Alternatively post a photo and location details on our Facebook group. You can also follow and contribute on Twitter #hibernatingheralds.
Keep an eye out for other hibernating butterflies and moths too. If you are lucky, you may come across a Tissue moth. Tissues overwinter in similar locations to the Herald but are much less numerous and much harder to spot as they rest flat against the walls. The best time to find them seems to be when they arrive at overwintering sites during September. Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells hibernate in places such as old buildings and caves and it would be interesting to know more about their overwintering distributions. You can enter records of these species on the hibernating herald iRecord activity or via the facebook page as above.
Some locations can be dangerous, so please take appropriate precautions. Also be aware some sites may be used by hibernating bats. If you plan to investigate these types of locations then please contact your local bat group (see Find Your Local Bat Group) for further guidance. You must be careful not to intentionally or recklessly disturb any bats as disturbance during their hibernation can affect the survival chances of these protected species. If you do inadvertently find any bats then you should leave promptly and your local bat group would be delighted to know.
Findings so far
A brief summary of the findings so far can be found in the Hibernating Herald Summary 2020 document.
More formal results have been published:
- Cubitt, M., Baird, K. & Sumner, A. (2020) Limax cinereoniger in a copper mine. Mollusc World 52: 27-28
- Katty Baird & Mark R. Shaw (2019) Overwintering behaviour of Diphyus quadripunctorius (Müller) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae, Ichneumoninae) in south-east Scotland. Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine 155: 217–225
- Baird, K.L. & Cubitt, M.G. (2019) Observations of overwintering tissues Triphosa dubitata l. (Lep.: Geometridae) in south-east Scotland. Ent. Rec 131(1) 13-19
- Baird, K. L. & Cubitt, M. G. (2018) Recording and observing overwintering Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix (Linnaeus, 1758) in Scotland. Atropos 62: 3-15
- Baird, K.L. & Cubitt, M.G. (2017) Status of the Tissue Triphosa dubitata(L.) (Lep.: Geometridae) in Scotland with some observations of overwintering individuals. Ent. Rec 129(4) 168-172