Saturday 31 December 2022

January Challenge


Hello Moth-ers,

A Happy New Year to all of you.

Tomorrow the January Moth Challenge will start. For the past several years this has been run by Peter Williams, but because he is so busy at this time of year with collating and verifying all your 2022 records, I have now taken over the reins of running the challenge. The challenge is open to anyone who wishes to take part, whether you trap in Montgomeryshire or not. And this time I have introduced some inter-county rivalry with Shropshire and Staffordshire also being invited to participate.

It is well worth having a go, as it generates many extra winter records when recording can otherwise be very sparse.

The objective of the challenge is to record 10 macro species throughout January (and 5 micro species if you record micros). As many of you have found out in the past, this is definitely not an easy challenge, but it also a bit of fun, so have a go, see how you get on, you might surprise yourselves!


There are just a few simple rules I would ask you to follow:-

1) The Challenge is open to anyone, whether in Montgomeryshire or not.

2) Adult moths only to be recorded.

3) Records from a single site only and from a single trap. Don’t have a trap? No problem, records such as daytime observations, moths to lit windows etc. can also count so long as they're all from the same site.


At the end of January all I need from you is:-

1) A list of species recorded throughout the month.

2) Total count for each species you’ve recorded.

3) Total number of nights you trapped on.

Please send your records to

(And please don’t forget to submit your records to your County Recorder the way you normally do!)

If you’d like to be interactive with other recorders you can post results as you go on the Facebook group and I’ll use this information to generate interim summaries, otherwise just send me your results at the end of the challenge. Final results will appear in due course here and on the Facebook group.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Dolforwyn Woods Event - Saturday 22 October

Well, we were greeted with heavy rain when the events team arrived at Dolforwyn Woods, but undefeated we waited a while and set up anyway - making sure to put up the gazebo first.  There is a snazzy new compost toilet at the top of the track, which proved ideal for hanging the white sheet (thanks to Phil again for lending us his equipment).  The toilet even had a canopy overhanging to keep the electrics dry.  No key though, so the toilet function couldn't be deployed.

Everything was ship-shape and the lights were on by the time Peter arrived, so we could relax then.  It was actually a very mild and still night - so apart from the occasional downpour practically perfect.  Peter said anything between 10-15 species would be a good result, so that was our target.  

The first moth of the night was a Copper Underwing Agg, and probably the most common moth of the night was November Moth Agg.  Peter gave us a masterclass in differentiating the Pale November Moth, November Moth and Autumnal Moth.  It is all to do with where a tiny dot is placed on the wing.  Suffice to say that I shall probably be continuing to record them as Agg!

We had some lovely autumnal moths including the Merveille du Jour, the Green-brindled Crescent and the Satellite.  

Figure of Eight (Phil McGregor)

Merveille du Jour (Phil McGregor)

Satellite (Phil McGregor)

Red-green Carpet (Phil McGregor)

And thanks to Phil we managed to record a couple of micros as well - neither of which I had seen before: Zelleria hepariella and Exapate congelatella. 

Exapate congelatella

Zelleria hepariella

By the end of the evening we had recorded 15 macros and 2 micros, thus ensuring a satisfying record for our last event of the year.  The full list will be available here shortly.  It was great to have a full year of events in 2022 - 7 night-time events in all - and to see so many people at them all.  Our best night of the season was at Llanymynech Golf Course in July, with 56 macros and 18 micros.  Altogether the moth night events in 2022 produced 229 macro moth records and 46 micro records.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel the daytime event we had planned due to bad weather, but hopefully we'll get that back in the diary next year.  I'll be starting to think about next year's programme soon, so do contact me if you have any ideas.  Finally, many thanks to all in the events team for all their hard work & enthusiasm: Phil McGregor, Paul Roughley, Mark Thomas, Daisy Dunn and her father Tony, and to Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust for working with us.  And of course, huge thanks to Peter Williams for turning out in all weathers across the county to lead the events. There aren't many county recorders that work as hard as he does for us all.  See you next year!

Monday 26 September 2022

White gate Pools event on 24-09-22

This was the first time we have held an event at this small nature reserve (and surrounding area), so we had no idea of what might turn up – it was a case of fire up the traps and see. The nature reserve is very closed in and protected by many species of shrubs and trees from all sides, just the right sort of site for an early autumn event.

During the day we had some showers, but these were fading away, so we looked forwards to a dry, if cool evening, but actually, early on we had some good cloud cover which held the temperatures up and this proved very good for us with many moth species on the wing.

We set out 5 Skinner type traps and the white sheet, all of which were using 125w mv bulbs, the traps were fired up at 7:30pm and it wasn’t too long before the first species came to the table, a Small Dusty Wave, which is actually quite an uncommon species in the county with a status of ‘C’, this was quickly followed by a Beaded Chestnut and the very common Large Yellow Underwing.

Small Dusty Wave

Very soon more species followed, and these included the Barred Sallow, Dusky Thorn, Pine Carpet and the Brimstone Moth.

Pine Carpet

Micro moths were quite thin on the ground with only four species being recorded; Blastobasis decolorella, Epiphyas postvittana, Acleris sparsana and Plutella porrectella which along with the Small Dusty Wave was probably the moth of the evening.

Epiphyas postvittana

Plutella porrectella

Blastobasis decolorella

As the evening moved on more new species were potted, Angle Shades, Lesser Yellow Underwing and a fabulous Black Rustic, such a smart moth.

Angle Shades

Black Rustic

Soon after 10:30pm the skies cleared and the temperature dropped, and moth activity dropped away, so we decided to call it a night and started to pack up the kit, one last species was potted, a Brindled Green. For a full species list please click here.

Thank you to all those who attended the event (16 of us), which included three new faces via Facebook (social media is good for some things!) and to the events team who organised and ran the event.

Our last event of 2022 is at Dolforwyn Woods on the Saturday 22nd. October and I hope to see some of you there.


Tuesday 20 September 2022

Moth & Bat Night at Camp Plas Campsite, 20/08/22

 August's moth night was held on the 20th of August at the Camp Plas Campsite in Dolanog. It was a joint event with Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, and was a rather busy night, with around 50 people in attendance including moth group members and general public. The site was comprised of several fields, including an area of longer grasses and a field bordered by a river and several hedgerows, meaning a varied range of habitats were available for different moth species.

After a barbeque we all enjoyed a wonderful talk on bats by Tammy from the Wildlife Trust, followed by a walk around the site with bat detectors. The 'bat hotspots' were next to the barn (with bats possibly catching moths and other bugs attracted to the light!) and down by the on-site river. Common and Soprano Pippistrelle were identified, as well as Daubenton's bats (of which we had a wonderful sighting as they swooped over the water) and Myotis species.

Centre Barred Sallow

Six moth traps were switched on for the event, as well as a mercury vapour bulb shining on a white sheet. Despite the night having begun with fairly dry conditions, the weather worsened later on and we had some heavy rain showers- leading to a few technical difficulties as the power flickered on and off! This led to a rather early finish at 11.15pm. Nevertheless, we record 29 moth species, comprising 5 micro-moth species and 24 macro-moth species- not too bad considering the weather!

Small Wainscot, with a pound coin for size reference!

It was fantastic as always to see these species identified by the group experts and learn more about them and their identifying features.

Bulrush Wainscot

One particularly exciting moth for the night was this Bulrush Wainscot, a rare 'C' grade species in Montgomeryshire with only 48 records so far. This was the only rare moth for the night, though we recorded some very attractive species, including Lesser Swallow Prominent and Dusky Thorn. 

Lesser Swallow Prominent

Dusky Thorn

Black Arches

For a full list of the species recorded, please follow the link below:

Thank you to all the organisers of the event for a wonderful (if wet) night of moth catching! The next event will be held on Saturday the 24th of September at White Gate Pool nature reserve in Montgomery, starting at 8pm.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Late Night in Llanymynech 23 July 2022

Back in July Montgomeryshire Moth Group held an event at Llanymynech Golf Course.  Although I believe the group has trapped in the area before this venue was new to us, and set up with thanks to Simon Spencer & the manager of the golf course.  It didn't seem a very promising evening when we arrived, as it was very windy and looking like rain too.  However, we found some fairly sheltered spots to put the traps, and Peter got excited about a rocky outcrop so we managed to get a trap there too.  

Peter hard at work

Fortunately the group was able to make its headquarters for the night in the driving range shed, which was just as well as it did rain quite a bit through the evening.  And a hardy number of moth group members made it out, so it was just a question of whether the moths would too. We set up Phil's new white sheet in the shelter behind the shed - thanks Phil!

And surprisingly the moths came!  First in was a micro, Agriphila straminella and the first macro was a Brimstone Moth.    Peter got most excited about the Pretty Chalk Carpet, and it was a real beauty.  

Pretty Chalk Carpet by Meurig Garbutt

Mark got excited about the Yellow Tail that he thought was a White Satin Moth, but we persuaded him it didn't have the black & white stripey legs.  However, right at the end of the evening we did get an actual White Satin Moth, and very smart it was too.  

 White Satin Moth by Phil McGregor
(note the stripey legs - the moth, not Phil)

Confusing moth of the night for me was the Brown-Line Bright-Eye, as I was recording and kept wanting it to be Bright-Line Brown-Eye which we get at home.  What were they thinking with those 2 names??

Brown-Line Bright-Eye by Meurig Garbutt

Clouded Border by Meurig Garbutt

In the end we recorded 18 micros and 56 macros, and a good range of moths too.  The full list can be found on the website

Lime-Speck Pug by Phil McGregor

Scarce Footman by Meurig Garbutt

Saturday 23 July 2022

To be (included), or not, to be (included)?

 A friend recently showed me a photograph of a Box Tree Moth larvae, one of an "adventive" population that decimated a Box Tree hedge at a garden he works just over the border in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Box Tree Moth, Cydalima perspectalis.
Seb Stewart.

Purely out of curiosity, I looked on the MMG species list to see if it had been recorded in Montgomeryshire. It is not listed (yet). I noted that the Gypsy Moth (regarded as another adventive species) has one record in Montgomeryshire, so we do record adventive species.

North Wales Lepidoptera's site has three records since 2018, all near the north-east coast of Wales.

So it occurred to me that in all the time I have been with MMG I, for one, have not been present at a talk, formal or otherwise, where adventive moth species have been discussed.

Ethics of controlling populations before and after cataloguing, "semi-naturalisation" acceptance thresholds and at what point official cataloguing and inclusion of these species to UK listing is conducted, are some of the ponderings in my head.

If anybody out there can contribute to this query/conversation, I would be most grateful.


n.b. Before rushing out in panic to check beloved Box Trees (if you live in the Oswestry area), my friend informed me that all the caterpillar's "appeared" to have died........but DID they all die????😟

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Gerddi Bro Ddyfi Gardens Bioblitz, Machynlleth 24/06/2022.


Bro Ddyfi Gardens is a brilliant, social therapeutic wildlife garden on the edge of Machynlleth, run entirely by volunteers since its founding in 2008.

MMG were invited to take part in a weekend bioblitz this year, as part of a condensed, broad survey of the flora and fauna present in and around the gardens. With a mixture of wildlife gardens, mature trees, pasture and nearby deciduous woodlands this promised to be a very good site for moths as well as the other surveys concerned.

General view of gardens. (Phil McGregor.)

This site has only been surveyed for moths once before, back in July 2016, when 54 species were recorded so we were needing some good weather for a decent chance to beat that number! Dutifully, the weather was absolutely splendid in the week running up to the event and then clouds loomed on the horizon with the threat of a slow moving, low pressure system edging east across Wales, due on our trapping night! 

As members of the group gradually arrived to set up, we received a very warm welcome from staffing volunteers and members of the public alike, who were gearing up for a bat walk and talk before hopefully staying on for our moth event. 

Traps were set up for a 10pm switch on, with Peter Williams, the county recorder, giving an introductory talk about all things moths. 

Peter Williams explaining the finer points
of species identification.  (Ben Porter)

First moth to the table was a Snout, caught with a net. A steady trickle of moths then came in from the 5 outlying traps and the white sheet at the "base camp", brought in by team members and a very enthusiastic group of attendees totalling 15 people in all.

Elephant Hawk Moth.  (Ben Porter.)
Pammene fasciana. (Ben Porter.)

The weather noticeably cooled with occasional rain showers after midnight. Between those of us still present, 2am was the agreed switch off time for all but one of the traps (a Skinner's) which was relocated to the "stone circle" to continue running until daybreak to try for some different species.

Something lurking near the white sheet. Answers
on a post card please!  (Ben Porter.)

In total, 16 Micro species and 45 Macro species were recorded, so a total of 61 species which, despite the unhelpful weather, was 7 more species than in 2016 (a full list of species is available HERE). 54 species were caught before the main switch off at 2am, the remaining 7 extra species were potted up by Phil before the final Skinner's trap was switched off at 5.30am.

Highlights of the event were (in Peter's opinion)  "...the Mullein larvae which were seen during the day and the best moth of the night was the Striped Wainscot, which is one of our least recorded Wainscot species".

A number of moths were kept at the table on the Saturday for members of the public to view as Phil had volunteered to stay on and help out with the remainder of the event. The Mullein larvae was spotted on a predictably well stripped Great Mullein in the afternoon. The remaining moths were released after lunch.

At the close of the bioblitz event, the crowd pleasing Buff Tip was voted moth of the night with much comment on its marvellous camouflage.

Buff Tip.   (Ben Porter.)

The whole event was a fantastic success, not only in terms of species recorded by MMG and other recorders (335 species in total at time of writing) but also awareness networking between different organisations, individuals and members of the public. It was great also, seeing so many children of all ages present, fascinated by the natural world too.

First and foremost, our thanks go to Fern Towers for her massive effort in organising the event and inviting us to take part. A big thank you also to Julie Pearce for organising MMG's contribution to the event and recording species, to Peter William's, County Moth Recorder, for identification and Ben Porter and Phil McGregor for photographs. Thank you also to those of the event who provided a table of refreshments.

Our next planned event is on Saturday 23rd July at Llanymynech Golf Course, Llanymynech from 9pm onwards, where we will be targeting limestone grassland species.

Monday 30 May 2022

National Moth Night at Gregynog - Saturday 21 May

It was lovely to see many people at our joint Moth & Bat night at Gregynog, held on National Moth Night in memory of Douglas Boyes.  Peter counted over 40 adults and children at the event, which was a real result.  Nice to see old friends and new faces.  We also raised more than £180 from the raffle for the Butterfly Conservation Fund set up in Douglas' memory.  Many thanks to Butterfly Conservation, Atropos Books, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, Clare Boyes and Phil McGregor for donating prizes, and everyone for buying tickets.  At least 2 of the winners were children, so hopefully they will be inspired by their prizes (Iolo's book on wildlife, and books from Douglas' collection) to have a lifelong interest in nature. Having said that, one of the young winners explained to us all about the evolutionary importance of the Peppered Moth, so is well on the way already!

And the moths didn't disappoint us either.  As regulars know, I do like to record more moths than people at our events, which can sometimes be a challenge!  However, despite the challenge, the moths just delivered, with 47 species recorded.  Thanks to Gregynog for allowing us to run an event there - it was a great location with lots of excellent habitat. 

Good use of swing frame for white sheet!
And Peter doing his party trick of identifying everything in a pot. 

The night was note-worthy for lots of reasons - one of them being traps full of Cockchafer beetles!  They were everywhere, and at the end of the night we had great difficulty persuading them to stay behind. We weren't totally successful.  At least one experienced a relocation, and Phil's description of Chafer Crawly skin still brings back memories.

We only recorded one micro moth, and that was mostly down to Phil's determination.  But we had a very good range of macro moths.  One of the most frequent to the table was the Pale Tussock & there seemed to be a good range of pugs including Dwarf, Mottled, Golden Rod & Common.  The "moth of the night" was either the Orange Footman, or for me personally, the Great Prominent, which truly was magnificent in scale. 

                Orange Footman.  In the excitement on the night no-one
                    took a photo, but this is a recent one from Daisy Dunn

Great Prominent (photo Sue Southam)

Green Silver-Lines (photo Sue Southam)

On the bat front Tammy, from Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, recorded 

  • Common Pipistrelle
  • Soprano Pipistrelle
  • Noctule
  • Brown Long-eared
  • Unidentified Myotis, possibly Whiskered/Brandt’s

As ever we recorded a few extra moths as we were packing away, including the fabled Peppered Moth.  Shame it was 1am by then, and all the children were safely tucked up at home.  The full list of moths recorded can be see on the website here

Thursday 5 May 2022

Saturday 23 April - Llandinam Gravels

It was lovely to get going with events again this year and we started at Llandinam Gravels.  Not a site that I had been able to find before (!) but fortunately a number of brave souls found us at the end of a long muddy track.  It is an interesting site as there is the river Severn along one side, with a field planted with young trees and then older woodland running behind us, so it was possible to put the traps in varied locations, and there was even a handy pheasant cage to set the white sheet up on.

Phil managed to catch a moth just as we were setting up.  A lovely little Adela reaumurella, which was a good start.  

Adela reaumurella

Peter Williams arrived just as the moths were coming in from the traps, and as ever treated us to some master classes in the differences between Lunar Marbled Brown and Marbled Brown (time of year), the Quakers, the Pugs and the Thorns.  We were fortunate enough to have a good variety so it was possible to compare directly.  

White-Spotted Pinion

Purple Thorn

Pale Prominent

The moths slowed down by about 11:30pm, and it felt quite chilly, so we potted up the stragglers and packed up.  The mystery micro which turned up at the end of the night was later identified as Dyseriocrania subpurpurella.  

Dyseriocrania subpurpurella

A total of 3 micros and 27 macros were recorded.  The full list is available here.  Thanks to the Dunn family for most of the above photos.  It was really good to see some new faces at the event, and hopefully we will see them again! Many thanks to Peter as well for braving the cold.  Don't forget our next event is at Gregynog on Saturday 21 May, and it's in memory of Douglas Boyes, so do come along to support us.

Saturday 5 February 2022

January Challenge 2022 - final results

                                                                                                                                                                      The January challenge has now finished, the data is all in and has been collated into the two charts below.

This year 12 moth-ers took part (one of those was an 'out of county' recorder), one recorder less than last year which was rather disappointing. The month started with very mild conditions and promised much, however conditions soon reverted to a more normal January and thereafter we all rather struggled. Only 21 species were recorded (a drop from the record number of 25 recorded in 2021). There were 13 macro and 9 micro species recorded, which resulted in 254 moths (336 last year), 236 macro and 18 micro), which, considering the adverse weather was an excellent effort on everyone's part.

Only one of us achieved the macro part of the challenge, with 10 plus species and that was myself (peter Williams), with just managing to get the ten species, recording the tenth species an Early Moth on the 28th. just a few days before the challenge finished. Sue Southam finished second with 6 species and daisy Dunn was third with 5 species. This year nobody managed to achieve the micro part of the challenge. The best return was 3 species from Peter Williams. 


Now for a more in depth breakdown of what was recorded.

                                                                                                                                                                      Macros - As can be seen in the chart above, only five of us managed to record 4+ species. Across all recorders the most numerous species was the Mottled Grey with 98 moths, followed by Umber Umber with 40 moths and in third place was the Winter Moths with 25 moths

The most moths recorded by individual recorders were 170 by Peter Williams, 25 by Sue Southam and 14 by Alan Sibley.

There weren't really any unexpected or unusual species recorded this year, apart from an Oak Nycteoline seen in the house by Julie Pearce and Mark Thomas.

Micros - were very thin on the ground this year, with only 9 species recorded (actually one more than last year). There weren't really any unexpected micro species recorded. 

The chart below shows the top five macro species recorded (along with the total of moths) from 2012 to 2022.

Monday 24 January 2022

January Challenge update to the 23-01-21

 Hello All - this is the January Challenge update for the second third of the month.

This period was particularly cold and in general very little was recorded by anyone - hopefully things will pick up for the last third, so fingers crossed for that.

There's still plenty of time to get involved with the challenge, if you haven't done so far. I remember a few years ago recording 10 macro species on the 31st. of January - so there you are - the challenge can be completed in a single night.

The chart below shows received data up till the 22-01-22.

Thursday 13 January 2022

January Challenge 12-01-22 Update

Hello All – here is the update for the January Challenge containing data for those who wish to be interactive showing their data. The month started well with recording breaking temperatures for January, in fact at my site in west Wales it reached a remarkable 17.6 on the 1st. Unfortunately, it was downhill to more normal levels after that. Therefore, Data sent into me did rather reflect the temps. and up to the 12th. Jan there were 9 macro species and 4 micro species recorded.                                                                                 

The next update will be around the 22nd. Jan.

Chart with all details below.