Friday, 1 October 2021

Happy Memories of Douglas Boyes with the MMG

 There will be many tributes to Douglas highlighting everything in his life relating to Entomology so, I won’t be doing that here. This tribute is a personal one relating solely to his association with the MMG (Montgomeryshire Moth Group).

Living in the countryside as he did, Douglas had always had a fascination for wildlife in general, but he was first introduced to the world of mothing in 2009 when he attended a field studies course hosted by Nick Baker. Soon after this, I met Douglas for the first time on Sunday 15th August 2010 at lake Vyrnwy visitor centre where the MMG (Montgomeryshire Moth Group) was holding a moth viewing event from moths trapped the previous evening. He was accompanied by his mother (Clare), who was, I think, encouraging Douglas down this path and therefore more than happy to take him to any moth related event but he didn’t need that much encouragement really, he was hooked on moths from the word go.

During his early years Douglas both trapped and did field work whenever he could at and around his home in Middletown and he didn’t miss any of our public events with Clare supporting him by ferrying him to them and often staying till the early hours of the morning, putting up with all sorts of weather, she was a real stalwart. 

Douglas identifying the species at Dolforwyn Woods in 2013

His knowledge and aspirations went from strength to strength and when he was only 16 Douglas was considered to be ‘up for the job’, when he took on the role of County Butterfly recorder for Montgomeryshire. He created a database and a pdf of the ‘Butterflies of Montgomeryshire’ which contained distribution maps and all other information about the species found in the county – an excellent piece of work, hailed by us all.

When he was old enough, he soon passed his driving test and got a car. This opened up the whole county for him to explore with his moth traps. Many a time he would contact me and ask, “are you up for an evening’s trapping?” at some nature reserve or other site. I remember on one occasion a small group of the MMG including Douglas spent an evening trapping in the quarry at CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology). To access the quarry, we had to ferry all the equipment through a fairly long, wet, dank tunnel, and when we emerged the other end, it was like discovering the ‘lost world’, which was all overgrown, with the high limestone walls of the quarry all around us, it was amazing. We did think we might record a hitherto unrecorded species for the county, in this ‘cut off’ place, but this wasn’t to be, but we all enjoyed the experience of trapping at this very unusual site.

Trying to keep warm at a Pont Llogel Event 

When Douglas went to Oxford University, we certainly missed him coming (and leading some) to all our mothing events, but he joined us when he could, it was always good to see him and he would get involved as if he hadn’t been away at all, quickly getting into his stride and helping out with id and constantly checking the traps. He would always be one of the last ones attending, often till the early hours of the morning. in fact, on a couple of occasions we watched the sun rise while we were packing the kit away, still eager to find that elusive species we were hoping to record.

Over the years Douglas also become involved with helping to administer areas of the Montgomery Moths website, such as the ‘Stop Press’ and our ‘Blog’, where he did an excellent job as always helping to lighten the load from Mike Haigh (who manages our website and database) and myself.     

It was very obvious to me from very early on that Douglas was going to go far in the world of entomology and this turned out to be exactly the case. His passing will affect so many people, he will be dearly missed.



  1. This is very sad news indeed. He was so good at sharing his extensive knowledge too. My thoughts go out to Clare and Simon.

  2. Thank you for your warm tribute Peter, and for your wonderful mentorship over the years

  3. So sad to hear this tragic news. I never met Douglas in person, but he was very kind in answering an email I sent him about clearwings a few weeks ago. Sending our condolences to his parents.

  4. Such sad & shocking news. Douglas was such an integral part of MMG, and a huge help to me when I took over managing events & setting up the facebook page. Happy memories of the last time Mark & I saw him - leading the Cors Dyfi event back in July. He was so full of energy and enthusiasm for what we might trap, and keen to share his knowledge with the public. We had such a laugh too. I'm so glad we got some good moths there. He will be so missed. Love & best wishes to his family.

  5. Peter, what sad news. I remember him as we found more and more Barred Carpets at CAT, he was joking about the number of finds, just another Barred Carpet. Love and thoughts to his family. Rob

  6. I was stunned and saddened to read Peters email. I have fond memories of evenings spent in Douglas' company as I have known him for the past 10 years. In that time I have seen him grow from a shy young teenager into a mature, self confident and highly intelligent young man. I shared the experiences of the tunnel at CAT and also spent a wild night at Glaslyn with him. I gave him a lift across the moor to check one of his traps and to my horror he disappeared over the fence and down the gorge as I promised to wait for him at the top. On many occasions he could not wait for darkness to fall and would entertain us with his energetic antics with his moth net.
    The word will be a poorer place without Douglas and my deepest sympathy goes to Clare and Simon.

  7. Just the saddest news. Douglas was an amazing young man in so many ways, who will be missed by so many. How fortunate we all are to have known him, and to have benefited from his enthusiasm, his 'challenges' and his friendship. Happy and lasting memories of a very talented and special 'moth-er'. Our thoughts are with Clare, Simon and the family.

  8. This news is unbelievably sad. I can hardly believe it.I have been involved with entomology all my life and Douglas was not only the best Entomologist of his generation but probably the best i ever met. I was hoping he would accompany me as a Co leader on Greenwings butterfly trips in Europe. He was doing some important and very interesting research on light and moths and was on the BBC science pages for day. The world is a poorer place without him. He will be greatly missed.

  9. Whilst still trying to process this incomprehensible and dreadfully sad news, Lotte and I would like to say that, for us, and no doubt, many, many others, Douglas was a very generous, sensitive witty and highly intelligent person. I can not say I knew him well but when we did meet at MMG events, his enthusiasm, encouragement and staggering knowledge of all things moths never failed to lift my confidence. We offer our deepest sympathies to his family, Phil and Lotte.

  10. I was utterly devastated to hear the news of Douglas's passing, and can't imagine how difficult this time must be for close family and friends. My thoughts go out to you after such a tragic loss - Douglas was a truly inspirational young naturalist whose contribution to the etymological sphere has been immense. Thank you for this touching account Peter.