Posted by: lensweb | September 20, 2018




The Friends of Toton Fields Local Nature Reserve invited LENS to go wild as part of a ‘Toton Go Wild’ Biodiversity Day organised to celebrate the publication of their new  book ‘Wild About Toton’.


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 / poplar plantations, and scrub habitats next to the River Erewash. In 2018 two large ponds were dug and a butterfly bank constructed.

We have been here before so we chose a new site close to the bridge over the River Erewash overflow, in long grass near an apple tree and sallows, by the path that leads to Mayfield Grove, Long Eaton. It was accessed from the Greenwood Centre at Chester Green.



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. A 125W mercury vapour (MV) lamp light source was used. The LENS trap was placed out of the line of sight of other traps (5 lights were operated by DaNES and are the subject of a separate report). Light traps were run for 3 hours, it had been a sunny day, but the temperature dropped rapidly in the evening and the moths struggled to get airborne. 


Toton Fields Local Nature Reserve           SK492344
Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill
Date 1-Sep-18   Time 20.30  – 12.00
125W Mercury Vapour   Temperature 23oC-13oC
Moon Third Quarter- Moonrise 22.37 illumination 70%, clear sky
Eupithecia succenturiata Bordered Pug 2 Common
Notocelia uddmanniana Bramble Shoot Moth 1 Common
Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth 2 Common
Diachrysia chrysitis Burnished Brass 1 Common
Ennomos alniaria Canary-shouldered Thorn 1 Common
Atethmia centrago Centre-barred Sallow 4 BAP Listed
Catoptria falsella Chequered Grass-veneer 1 Common
Cilix glaucata Chinese Character 3 Common
Celypha lacunana Common Marble 2 Common
Amphipyra pyramidea Copper Underwing 3 Common
Xanthorhoe ferrugata Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet 1 BAP Listed
Acleris laterana Dark-triangle Button 1 Common
Agriphila geniculea Elbow-stripe Grass-veneer 2 Common
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder 2 Common
Xanthorhoe fluctuata Garden Carpet 4 Common
Argyresthia goedartella Golden Argent 2 Common
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing 8 Common
Acleris hastiana Sallow Button 1 Common
Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl 2 Common
Mormo maura Old Lady 2 Nationally Local
Donacaula forficella Pale Water-veneer 2 Common
Xanthia togata Pink-barred Sallow 1 Common
Idaea aversata Riband Wave 1 Common
Falcaria lacertinaria Scalloped Hook-tip 1 Common
Scopula imitaria Small Blood-vein 2 Common
Pyrausta aurata Small Purple & Gold 1 Common
Diarsia rubi Small Square-spot 2 BAP Listed
Hypena proboscidalis Snout 2 Common
Xestia xanthographa Square-spot Rustic 8 Common
Rivula sericealis Straw Dot 8 Common
Eupithecia linariata Toadflax Pug 1 Common
Hoplodrina ambigua Vine’s Rustic 2 Common
Acentria ephemerella Water Veneer 7 Common


By the end of the evening, 32 types of moth were trapped and identified but the numbers were low. The cool temperature had inhibited flying by the end of the session. Many of the species caught were those that inhabit damp and marshy places and woodland. The most numerous were the Water Veneer, Square- spot Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing and the Straw Dot. The larvae of the Water Veneer Acentria ephemerella are entirely aquatic feeding on waterweed. The Straw Dot Rivula sericealis is a common resident and suspected immigrant which feeds on grasses in damp meadow and woodland however it has only become common locally in recent years. The Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba is a ubiquitous resident and immigrant species which feeds on a wide range of herbaceous plants and grasses.

All species recorded in the United Kingdom have been given a national status with the most threatened and scarce species assigned to a conservation category, as listed under ‘National status’. Accurate up to date and properly vetted information is difficult to come by the most recently compiled national distribution maps may not include the most up to date information.

The Old Lady Mormo maura is a large-winged, sombre-coloured moth, which is distributed locally throughout much of Britain, and common in places. It hides by day in old buildings and sheds, and frequents damp localities as well as waste ground and gardens. The adults are on the wing in July and August. The caterpillars feed in the spring after overwintering, on blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), and other shrubs and trees. The Old Lady moth has LOCAL status ie records are localised or patchy. All the other macro-moths recorded were COMMON ie well distributed .

Several micromoths were taken to be identified by Dave Budworth, the Derbyshire Micro-moth recorder.

Currently 81 moths (25 micros and 56 macros) have Priority Species status under the UK BAP (following a review in 2006/07). These are the species which require most urgent conservation effort and many occur on a very small number of sites. In addition a further 71 species were added to the UK BAP in 2007 as cause for concern. These are widespread but rapidly declining moths, which were identified in  ‘The State of Britain’s Larger Moths report’ based on Rothamsted data at 430 sites across the UK. Sixty-one species of larger moth declined by 75% or more over 40 years (1968-2007), decreases occurred in some of our most common and widespread species such as

  • Garden Carpet Xanthorhoe fluctuate (foodplant dock, ivy, bedstraws) declined by 74%
  • Pink-barred Sallow Xanthia togata (ash) 58% decreasePink-barred Sallow Xanthia togata23 marl 011009 001

The UK List of Priority Species and Habitats contains 1150 species and 65 habitats listed as priorities for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) UK BAP Species Much of the work previously carried out by the UK  BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) is now focussed at a country-level rather than a UK-level, and the UK BAP was succeeded by the ‘UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework‘ in July 2012, however, the lists of priority species and habitats agreed under UK BAP still form the basis of much biodiversity work.  Many of these rapidly declining species are still common and widespread. The inclusion of these moths in the UK BAP was to encourage research by universities and institutes into the causes of decline and ways to reverse the trends. Included in the RED list are:

  • Centre-barred sallow Atethmia centrago (foodplant willow) which decreased by 74%
  • Small Square-spot Diarsia rubi (dandelion, foxglove, dock) a very common moth which has decreased by 87%
  • Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet Xanthorhoe ferrugata (Bedstraw, dock, ivy) has decreased by 91%

IMG_1994 - Copy

Previous moth trapping sessions at Toton have recorded Beautiful Hook-tip Laspeyria flexula, Sycamore, Chocolate-tip Clostera curtula, Coronet Craniophora ligustri, Scarce Footman Eilema complana and White-streak grass veneer Agriphila latistria (a micromoth). These are moths of LOCAL status with localised or patchy records, Notts Grade 3. The Angle-striped Sallow Enargia paleacea recorded in 2017, is Nationally notable, Notts Grade 2. Dot Moth Melanchra persicariae BAP Priority Species declined by 88%.

Day flying moths which are common in this area are Shaded Broad-bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata BAP Priority Species declined by 88%, Blood-vein Timandra comae (79% decline) and Black neck Lygephila pastinum Conservation Status Local Notts Grade 3. Six belted Clearwing Bembecia ichneumoniformis Local Notts Grade 2 has also been recorded on Toton Sidings (2015) nectaring on ragwort.

The larva of the Toadflax Brocade Calophasia lunula has been recorded on the south end of the Toton Sidings Site at Long Eaton in 2018, the adult was trapped on the Long Eaton side of the River Erewash in 2016. Although it’s high BAP priority was downgraded in the 2007 national review, it is an uncommon moth more usually found on the south coast. Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria (Notts Grade 1, Nationally Scarce B) is another notable moth which has been trapped nearby. Red Swordgrass Xylena vetusta Nationally local, Notts Grade 2 is thought to be an immigrant species.


Nationally local, Notts Grade 3 species trapped just over the border in Long Eaton include Silky Wainscot Chilodes maritimus Large Twin-spot Carpet Xanthorhoe quadrifasciata, The Tissue Triphosa dubitata, Lilac Beauty Apeira syringaria, Dark Umber Philereme transversata, Yellow-barred Brindle Acasis viretata and Dwarf Cream Wave Idaea fuscovenosa. Northern Spinach Eulithis populate is Notts Grade 3 but nationally common.

According to Butterfly Conservation the total abundance of moths decreased by 28% over the period 1968-2007. Losses in southern Britain were greater, at 40%, whereas in northern Britain losses were offset by gains.

Although many of the widespread and common larger moths decreased in abundance during the 40-year study, a substantial minority (one-third of the 337 species studied) increased. Fifty-three species more than doubled their population levels over the 40 years Many of the species that have become more abundant have also become more widespread by expanding their distributions, dramatically in some cases.

An example of this is Vine’s Rustic Hoplodrina ambigua, a resident and immigrant species found in a wide range of habitats and recently recorded in Toton. It’s population levels have fluctuated from year to year, as expected of a migratory species, but show an increase of 433% over the 40-year period of the report. In keeping with this increase, the resident distribution of the Vine’s Rustic has expanded. However, twice as many larger moths declined as increased in Britain over 40 years.



Moths come in a huge variety of sizes, colours and shapes but most are rarely seen because they fly at night.

There are 2,500 species of moths in Britain of these approximately 800 are macro-moths, the majority are very small and are called micro-moths. Most live here all year, but some visit on migration.

Moths have important roles in the wildlife ecosystem. They pollinate flowers and are vital food for many other animals. Moths are also useful to us, giving vital information about our own environment, especially climate change.

The world is facing a biodiversity crisis with profound consequences for human wellbeing. The decline and extinction of species is occurring at a rapid rate. The results are unequivocal: insect biodiversity is declining rapidly and, in many cases, it is specialist species that are being lost, while a relatively small number of generalist species come to dominate wildlife communities which then are less resilient to change.

Light pollution has long been recognised as a potential problem for moths and other wildlife and this, in addition to agricultural chemicals, increased nitirification of the atmosphere and rivers, habitat destruction and climate change all affect biodiversity.

There are significantly fewer individual moths in Britain now than 40 years ago and, while many rapidly declining moths are still regularly recorded in back gardens and other habitats across the country, their populations are markedly reduced.

The moth trapping exercise has proven there is a valuable biosystem sink for a variety of moths of Local and National Importance at Toton Fields Local Nature Reserve, Toton Sidings and sites nearby in Long Eaton.

IMG_2049 - Copy

Recently work has been carried out to increase the biodiversity of habitats available for colonisation in the River Erewash Corridor at Toton so it is expected that new species of moth for the area will be found in future moth trapping surveys.

Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill 1 September 2018


Fox, R., Parsons, M.S., Chapman, J.W., Woiwod, I.P., Warren, M.S. & Brooks, D.R. (2013) The State of Britain’s Larger Moths 2013. Butterfly Conservation and Rothamsted Research, Wareham, Dorset, UK.

Wright Sheila The Conservation Status of Larger Moths in Nottinghamshire

Nottingham Natural History Museum, Wollaton Hall. 2014 update to Third Edition

National BAP status 2007

Wild About Toton by The Friends of Toton Fields 2018



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