What is University Moth Challenge?
University Moth Challenge (UMOC) is a joint initiative by the UK’s youth nature network A Focus on Nature (AFoN) and Butterfly Conservation. Together our aims are:
- To encourage more biological recording at University
- To encourage more young people to take an active interest in moths
- To give young people valuable biological recording and identification skills
- To link young people and Universities with the National Moth Recording Scheme
The competition requires students studying in colleges and universities across the UK to form a team and use a range of survey and trapping techniques to discover moths on their campus and beyond. To make things more interesting, we have set this up as a competition, running from April to August each year. Teams compete against each other to win some exciting prizes in different categories (e.g. number of species recorded, number of moths recorded).
University Moth Challenge is designed to give students an opportunity to develop new skills and have fun in the process. But there is a real and pressing conservation side to this too. The abundance of the UK’s larger moths has crashed during the past 40 years with three species becoming extinct since 2000. The State of Britain’s Larger Moths Report 2013 found that two-thirds of common and widespread larger species (macro-moths) declined in the last 40 years. By taking part in the scheme we hope to hook many students into the fascinating world of moths and moth recording so that we can continue to collect the data we need to conserve them.
In 2019 University Moth Challenge Champions were Lancaster University, winning in all four categories in an impressive clean sweep! The 'Lancaster Lepidopterists' recorded 469 different species over 76 surveying events. Sadly, we were unable to run the competition in 2020, but we're back and ready to go for 2021, with some new (Covid secure) categories and new ideas to support our students.
How do I take part?
We will be publishing the 2021 competition 'Challenge Pack' here next month and will officially begin on April 1st so please check back for the full details. In the meantime, you can take a look at the 2019 pack to get an idea of what it's all about.