Submission of Moth Records for VC32 Northamptonshire
Interest in moth recording has seen significant growth in recent years, and as hobbies go, it is one that has the potential to add significant knowledge of ecosystems, habitat changes, climate change, etc. I fully appreciate therefore, that many people visiting this website are doing so as part of that hobby. However, if you are able to submit any sightings and records for the vice county, I would be very keen to receive them no matter if from the previous year, or gleaned from old notebooks from times past, or simply as a casual observer. I hope to explain a bit more about how that aspect of the group now works.
Where to send records
Please submit records of all moth species (macro and micro) to the County Moth Recorder, Mark Hammond (contact details at foot of page), for verification. Other experienced recorders around the county also provide advice and identification assistance, and I'd appreciate that any records you have be sent to Mark at the end of the season (or sooner if you think the record is noteworthy). If you also have old records that have not been previously submitted, we would also welcome these at any time.
What is "a record"?
As mentioned above, a record could simply be as a result of casual observations when out for a walk, to a full list of all species seen on a given daye, with at least an indication of numbers seen, if not an actual count. And of course, anything in between! The preference is for as much detail as possible, and hence if for instance, you are regularly running a moth trap in your garden, a list of species each night with numbers would be absolutely perfect. These data can be submitted in a variety of ways, as described below.
How to submit records
Records are accepted in any format, but electronically via email is very much the preferred method. Ideally, as much detail as possible is desirable - an ideal situation is where the totals of moths for each recording session is listed separately. These are preferable to an annual summary list, as these data will allow for much greater analysation in terms of flight periods, fluctuations in numbers from year to year, etc.
The Northants moth database currently contains approximately 325,000 records, and is growing all the time as new and archival material is added. These data are held locally by the County Moth Recorder, by the Northamptonshire Biodiversity Records Office and are also submitted regularly to the National Moth Recording Scheme database hosted by Butterfly Conservation. Data for the whole country can now be viewed via the Moths Count which in turn is uploaded to the National Biodiversity Network Gateway viewable as dot-maps for each species.
The preferred method of submission is an Excel Spreadsheet compatible with a MapMate input file. MapMate is a software programme developed especially for natural history recording. It is cheap and easy to use and more details can be found on the MapMate website at www.mapmate.co.uk . Current purchase cost is £25, with a £12 annual licence fee to cover continual updates to features and taxonomic data. The basis of biological recording results in one record per line the most accurate therefore being a summary of the numbers of each species seen on a given occasion using a given method. One quick way to export records from MapMate is this:
The number of moth recorders is ever increasing, and so the burden on the County Recorder has meant that electronic record collation is being performed by other individuals. Therefore it is only by individuals entering their own records that the system can be maintained. All records that are submitted, be they by email, hard copy or as an excel spreadsheet, will all be entered onto MapMate. Therefore please ensure that the following information is submitted for each record, and if sent as an excel file please put one record on each line with these items along the top row:
For further guidance, please see the example spreadsheet here (downloadable)
If you are new to MapMate, or would like any further advice regarding the submission of records in electronic format, then please contact Mark Hammond for advice.
As indicated above, there are several related species where great care is needed to establish the correct identification, and require careful consultation of the literature until you are familiar with all the salient identification features. The micro moths are slightly more tricky than most macro moths, and therefore some care is required for certain groups of moths. Remember also that there can be great variation within a species and also between the sexes of some species. Websites can also be a good source of photographs and information, but be aware that these come with a warning - as these are not strictly peer-reviewed and can therefore contain more errors than found within published reference books. Reference to more than a single source is strongly advised. Inexperienced recorders should also note that there are several difficult species that can only be safely determined by more detailed examination, including dissection of the genitalia.
Macro species regularly occurring in Northants that require
Red Twin-spot Carpet Xanthorhoe spadicearia / Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet Xanthorhoe ferrugata
Riband Wave Idaea aversata / Plain
Wave Idaea straminata
Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidea / Svensson's Copper Underwing Amphipyra berbera
Macro species regularly occurring in Northants that require supporting
evidence of genitalia examination.
NB: These species will be aggregated if evidence not provided:
November Moth Epirrita dilutata / Pale
November Moth Epirrita christyi / Autumnal Moth
Dark Dagger Acronicta tridens / Grey
Dagger Acronicta psi
Marbled Minor Oligia strigilis / Rufous
Minor Oligia versicolor / Tawny Marbled Minor
Common Rustic Mesapamea secalis / Lesser
Common Rustic Mesapamea didyma
Ear Moth Amphipoea oculea / Other Ear species
In addition to those highlighted above, rarer migrants, rarer residents or pugs will need verification by someone familiar with the species either by producing the specimen or a good quality photograph (as indicated on the NMG website). The use of digital cameras has transformed the verification process but it should be borne in mind that species cannot always be identified with certainty from a photograph and it is always best to err on the side of caution in your recording. It is always best to retain any moth for which the identification is uncertain - even if a photograph has been taken - until it has been identified with certainty. This is especially so if that specimen is thought to be one of the rarer species in the county and essential if you believe this to be the first county record.
VC32 Northamptonshire County Moth Recorder:
9 Osier Way, Thrapston, Northants, NN14 4PH
Tel: 07932 642308