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Introduction to the Moths

The aims of the group are to raise the profile and increase the recording of moths in Northamptonshire & The Soke of Peterborough (Vice County 32) – macros and micros. To this end, the active field group can be contacted by anyone wishing to help, submit records or with identification queries or other issues concerning moths. As the site thrives on records we welcome them in any form whatsoever, from daily lists from regular “mothers” to incidental sightings during a family nature ramble.

There are currently about 1520 species of moths recorded in the county (out of approx. 2,400 recorded in the UK), 630 of which are sometimes known as macro moths, and 890 micros. Until recently, the two “groups” were looked after by two different County Moth Recorders – John Ward covering the macros, and David Manning the micros. These stalwarts of local moth recording have been “in post” for approx. 40 and 25 years respectively, and between them have transformed the local recording of moths. It is chiefly down to these two people that VC32 is in a reasonable state and can be readily compared to its neighbouring vice counties. Mark Hammond took over the macro CMR role in 2015, and then the micros from January 2016.

VC32 is a land-locked, inland county with very little acid heath, no upland and which has suffered unprecedented habitat loss since the Second World War. This said, the species tally is still comparable with adjacent counties and is increasing with every year, particularly the list of micros.

Over the years, various articles have appeared in entomological journals, but the only full lists of the county’s moths that have been published were in the Victoria County History in 1902 and then by Eustace F. Wallis just before the First World War, entitled “The Lepidoptera of Northamptonshire”. This appeared in parts in the Journal of the Northamptonshire Natural History Society, 1908-1912. The original diaries from which this was prepared are now with the Kettering & District Natural History Society (KDNHS).

Wallis was later a member of the KDNHS, and their secretary maintained an index-card system of noting members’ records annually, from 1917 to 1956. All these records have now been added to the mapping program for the county list.

Much more recently John & Brenda Ward have published their book entitled “The Larger Moths of Northamptonshire & The Soke of Peterborough” (2015 – see link on right of Home Page). As mentioned, John was the County Macro Moth Recorder for 40 years to 2015, and this publication reflects the sheer volume of effort he applied to this task, and distils not only those 40 years, but also acts as a compendium for all macro moth species recorded up to and including that date.

This website reflects the ongoing, current resource, enabling users to see up-to-date information on the county’s moth fauna. Every species recorded in VC32 is represented by a dedicated page, linked from the Species List, and these will be updated regularly to reflect new records and knowledge. Some of the species write-ups are currently quite brief and lacking in detail (particularly those for the micro moths), but these will be enhanced with more data and images as these become available.

The web pages for the micro moths are a recent addition (2016). Much of the data contained in these pages are a reflection of the previous David Manning’s hard work over the last 25 years, who’s original remit was to “fill in some white holes in the maps” prior to publication of The Moths & Butterflies of Great Britain & Ireland.

So there are many aspects of the web site where everyone can contribute, and of course also therefore to the wider knowledge of moths in the area. Due to their nocturnal lifestyle and expertise in concealment, moths are often difficult to find and in a county of this size there are bound to be gaps in recording. This is allowed for in the text and may mean that moths that are classed as “common” will often be present in all grid squares within the county, even though at this stage the maps may not depict this. The maps are often a reflection of recording effort. To that end, the species text and distribution maps will be updated regularly as recording proceeds.