Posted by: lensweb | March 4, 2015

The Garden Moth Scheme in Long Eaton

This Friday 500 Garden Moth Scheme volunteers will turn on their light traps for week 1 of the 2015 Garden Moth Scheme

GMS is for anyone interested in recording moths regularly in their garden. One night a week, through the summer months (March to October), we turn on the light trap at dusk and the next morning  open the trap to count the moths which can then be released unharmed.

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Moths wait to be counted

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

The moth numbers, the date and the minimum night time temperature are recorded on the GMS list of core species and sent to the area co-ordinator every quarter. Statistical trends are analysed by GMS. GMS moth-ers receive a quarterly update newsletter and an annual report. Each year a GMS conference is held. Volunteers are also encouraged to send their records to the county moth recorder.

I use a Skinner 15W light trap at grid reference SK497340 in Long Eaton, Derbyshire in a small suburban garden  with a very small pond and ivy on the walls. It is 50-2km from the nearest open country, woodland, greenspace, water, or farmland, less than 50m from the nearest (sodium) street lamp and over 2km from the coast.

Each year the trap yields about 1000 moths of 100 different species. They can be a puzzle to identify especially if the scales have worn off the wings. I also record a few species that are not on the GMS core list such as Elder pearl.

Year Total count of moths No of species Non-core species
2011 1138 121 10
2012  797   87  6
2013 1016   85 32
2014  816   99  8


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Elder pearl Anania coronata

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

BAP species are species under threat or species with declining numbers or distribution which highlight a conservation issue: White ermine, buff ermine, the sallow, centre barred sallow, spinach and dark spinach, grey dagger and knotgrass, mouse moth, oak hook tip, shaded broad bar and cinnabar (these two better known as day flying moths), dark barred twin spot carpet, powdered quaker, grey dagger, knotgrass, small square spot and dot moth are my Long Eaton garden species on the list for concern.

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Buff ermine Spilosoma lutea

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

Here is a list of the most common species trapped in my garden, I have also listed the larval food plant. A lot of the common moths are generalist feeders

Moth species  Foodplant 2011 2012 2013 2014
Light Brown Apple Moth Herbaceous plants 18 22 21 23
Bee Moth Beeswax 7 10 2 23
Riband Wave Low growing plants Dock and dandelion 25 28 33 28
Garden Carpet Crucifers 14 18 40 48
Red-green Carpet Oak and rowan 9 2 14 3
Common Marbled Carpet Low growing plants 4 3 23 22
Green Carpet Bedstraw 9 12 16 1
Double-striped Pug Gorse and holly 15 3 18 4
Willow Beauty Hawthorn and ivy 41 61 23 24
Mottled Beauty Birch and other 2 1 40 11
Heart & Dart Various wild and garden plants 191 49 19 82
Flame Low growing plants dock and bedstraw 8 2 4 10
Large Yellow Underwing Herbaceous plants 131 175 314 132
Lesser Yellow Underwing Herbaceous plants 5 19 20 13
Least Yellow Underwing Herbaceous plants 2 0 14 2
Small Square-spot Herbaceous plants including raspberry 11 3 1 5
Setaceous Hebrew Character Herbaceous plants especially nettle 19 2 7 2
Double Square-spot Various trees and shrubs 0 3 9 13
Square-spot Rustic Mainly on grasses, but also on other low-growing plant 0 20 35 6
Common Quaker Oak , sallow  and other deciduous trees 49 9 3 4
Clouded Drab Trees and shrubs, but especially oak 17 8 2 2
Hebrew Character Trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. 10 6 2 2
Black Rustic Low plants such as heather  and dock , as well as various grasses. 48 4 13 5
Marbled Beauty Lichens, especially rock-growing species 26 28 46 49
Copper Underwing agg. Trees and shrubs, mainly oak 58 86 36 20
Old Lady Blackthorn and other shrubs and trees 7 19 7 4
Dark Arches Various grasses 41 31 27 20
Common Rustic agg. Various grasses, including cock’s-foot and tall fescue 15 28 41 24
Vine’s Rustic Dock and plantain 36 8 1 1
Pale Mottled Willow Grain of various cereal crops 15 6 8 13
Silver Y Wide range of low plants 2 4 16 0

Moth flight is very weather dependent and in the first few weeks the scheme is running, it may be too cold at night for many moth species to fly, but we will catch spring species such as March moth which may not be flying in later weeks.

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March moth Alsophila aescularia

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

By week 13 (the end of June) there are good numbers and a July highflyer means summer is here.

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July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

In the last two weeks of August- week 26 and 27, numbers peak and there may be some interesting migrant species such as dark sword grass.  

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Dark swordgrass Xylena vetusta

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

By mid-September, week 29, numbers are in steep decline, red green carpet, black rustic and November moth show winter is on it’s way.

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Black rustic Aporophyla nigra

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

Few species can fly in the low night time temperatures after week 38, the end of October and  it is the end of the GMS summer recording scheme.

My favourite moths are the moths that show the seasons and the moths which are so strange or beautiful that they take the breath away.

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Brindled beauty Lycia hirtaria

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

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Lilac beauty Apeira syringaria

Photo credit Marion Bryce 2011

This Friday 500 Garden Moth Scheme volunteers will turn on their light traps for week 1 of the 2015 Garden Moth Scheme

Marion Bryce 3 March 2015


  1. Wow! This is impressive! A lot of work has been done in gaining these results, photos and in writing the fascinating article.


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