Posted by: lensweb | April 16, 2017

Mothing at Toton Fields Local Nature Reserve


Following from July 2016, LENS Wildlife Group were invited to run a further moth trapping session by the Friends of Toton Fields Local Nature Reserve as part of a comprehensive wildlife survey of the site. This Local Nature Reserve is owned by Broxtowe Borough Council and was declared in 2009. It is managed by Broxtowe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.  The site is characterised by amenity grassland, small areas of ash, willow and poplar plantations, river corridor and scrub habitats.


On 14 April 2017 two light traps were run for 4 hours. The traps were placed near to the Greenwood Centre off Banks Road. at the edge of a field, alongside the River Erewash with associated wetland species, wet grassland and woodland.

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Skinner design moth traps were used, which consist of a wooden box with a central wooden crossbar housing a bulb holder and rain guard. Two large, angled pieces of clear Perspex have dual purposes, deflecting moths downwards, and allowing easy visual inspection to find moths which settle into the empty egg boxes which are placed in the box. Two different light sources were used, a 125W mercury vapour (MV) lamp which is very bright and will usually attract more moths and the much duller Actinic which is preferable if you want the nocturnal activities to remain low-key. The two different light sources can attract different moth species, geometers tending to favour the actinic, noctuids the MV lamp.


Despite light rain, the session went ahead. The rain soon stopped, but not many moths were flying. A fox padded down the river path while a mole scooped out hills of rich dark brown loam, perhaps it couldn’t tell the difference between day and night? This was a slow evening for moths, averaging one moth per hour! By the end of the evening a total of 8 moths of 5 different species had been trapped:

Greenwood Centre, Toton  SK 494 345


 14 April 2017

 20.15pm  – 12.00


15W Actinic and 125W Mercury Vapour as indicated  Light rain 14oC-10oC Moon waning gibbous – illumination 85% extensive cloud cover


Orthosia gothica Hebrew Character 1 125WMV Common
Orthosia cerati Common quaker 4 15W actinic and 125WMV Common
Orthosia incerta Clouded drab 1 125WMV Common
Gymnocelis rufifasciata Double striped pug 1 15W actinic Common
Clostera curtula Chocolate tip 1 125WMV Local, Notts Grade 3

The Double striped pug (common, ungraded ) has two generations , March-May or July-August. Larval food plants are flowers of many species including holly, ivy, gorse and broom.

The Hebrew character (common, ungraded) has one generation ,  flying from March to May or early June feeding at sallow catkins. Larval food plants are a wide range of trees, bushes and herbaceous plants including oaks, birches, hawthorns, sallows, limes, bilberry, meadowsweet and  common nettle.

The Common quaker and clouded drab moths (common, ungraded) have one generation flying from March until May. Larval foodplants are a wide range of broad leaved trees, the imago feeding at sallow catkins and blackthorn flowers.

It was a real treat to find a Chocolate tip moth hanging onto the bottom of the light as we were packing up the trap at midnight. Chocolate tip has two generations , April-May or August- September. Larval foodplants are aspen, poplar, sallow, willow. The Chocolate tip has LOCAL status ie records are localised or patchy. The Chocolate tip been assigned Nottinghamshire GRADE 3 which includes all Nationally Local species recorded from more than five 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990, together with all Nationally Common species recorded from five or fewer 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990.

All the other moths recorded have COMMON status ie are well distributed.


 This mothing session, though low in numbers of moths caught, highlighted 3 common species of moth which fly only in Spring, Hebrew character, clouded drab and common quaker and a ‘local’ moth, the Chocolate tip. It is certain that further moth species will be identified from this site in the future planned sessions of moth trapping.

Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill 14 April 2017


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