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Getting Started
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Getting Started

If you have an interest in moths and would like to start seeing what species are flying in your garden, neighbourhood or further afield, then this page should provide you with some tips on how best to make those first steps.

An excellent article on mothing is available at the Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies website.

ALS Beginners Guide to Moth Trapping

ALS can also supply any equipment that you require, as can the other suppliers in the green section of the Links page.

If you are a member of Butterfly Conservation West Midlands Branch, then there is a loan scheme to allow people to see if mothing is for them without going to the expense of purchasing the equipment.

If you feel like expanding your horizons from your garden, then probably the best way is to come along to one of the organised moth trapping events. These can be found in the Events Diary and take place around the region throughout most of the year. They usually begin before dusk, when the traps are setup and some netting of early flying species can take place. Different species have preferred flying times, and in the Summer months trapping sessions can last all night. There is no obligation to stay any longer than you want to, but please inform the organiser when you are leaving. Also, as the trapping often takes place deep in woodland, groups will meet up first at a convenient location and then move on to the site. If you are planning to join a session then please phone the organiser so they know who to expect.

Identification of moths sometimes troubles new starters, but, once you have some experience of them, a large number are no more difficult to distinguish than butterflies. The standard reference for the larger (Macro) moths is Bernard Skinner's book "Moths of the British Isles". There is also an excellent website showing most of the moths that a beginner is likely to encounter.

UKMoths - Ian Kimber

Recording the species you have seen can be done in a notebook, on a card index system or, probably most usefully, on a computer. Computerised recording can be done in a spreadsheet program or a purpose-made biological recording program such as MapMate, Aditsite or Recorder 2000. Whatever you use, the maximum usefulness of the records can only come about if County Recorders and National Recording schemes have access to them. Your records can be funnelled to these organisations via the Branch Moth Officers for your area.

The Worcestershire county recorder, Tony Simpson, has compiled a useful document giving a guide to the rarity status of the moths seen in his county.
This is also relevant to most of the West Midlands region.

Also of interest is an article written by the Ian Duncan on his experiences as a beginner in moth identification.

If this have whetted your appetite but you have further questions, then please mail me at and I will be glad to answer them.

Nigel Stone


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