Magical Moths at Fyne Court

What a fantastic array of moths we saw last week as expert James McGill gave us a fascinating insight as he talked us through the nights moth traps finds at Fyne Court.

James entertained everyone with many of the wonderful names attributed to the moths, from The Spectacle, to True Lovers Knot and Mother of Pearl; whilst amazing everyone with his incredible knowledge and memory for knowing them all! We had children enjoying moth colouring in and ‘Moth Bingo’ (also enjoyed by some of the adults seeing if they could find them all!), and everyone in awe of the incredible variety and beauty of the moths.  

Sadly moths get a pretty inaccurate reputation for being brown and boring and eating clothes; we hope some of the pictures from what we saw might challenge this view, and only two of the thousands of species do actually eat clothes. Part of the Lepidoptera order of species along with butterflies, their main characteristic being wings covered in tiny scales. The difference between moths and butterflies?  Unfortunately not so straight forward, but a general rule of thumb is related to the shape of their antennae; most moths will have feathery or tapering antennae, whilst butterflies tend to be more ‘club-shaped’. No UK butterflies have feathery antennae, but there are exceptions to the rule and some months and butterflies can have similar shaped antennae. There are also moths that fly in the day, and moths that rest their wings vertically such as the Thorns, but they are all Lepidoptera.

Bees and butterflies get a lot of publicity as important pollinators but moths take on this role through the night, and of course are an important food source for many of our birds.  Moths are an incredibly important part of our ecosystems, and getting to see the variety that so many of us rarely get to see them due to their nocturnal nature and the incredible job they do with camouflage felt a real priviledge.

If you feel inspired to see what moths might be in your garden at night, there are some really useful guides to DIY moth light traps available online and some budget options, you might be pleasantly surprised by the variety of moths you find in your garden. The moths tend to be very quiet first thing in the morning which is helpful to take a good look before you release them.  This is also a great opportunity to photograph and identify them which you can do using the iNaturalist app, and if you live within the Quantocks area the records will also feed into our information for the Quantocks Wildlife Watch. A guide for using the app is included on our Quantocks Wildlife Watch page. Of course if you do try and moth trapping make sure you try and release them where they have plenty of cover to protect themselves from becoming a buffet breakfast for your garden birds.