Buff-tip - Iain Leach

How to get started with moth recording:

  • Buy, make or borrow a moth trap. The latter is a great idea when you are just getting started. Ask the Branch or staff if they have moth traps for loan.
  • Buy or borrow a modern field guide to the macro-moths.
  • Start by looking at moths attracted to your outside lights.
  • You don’t have to identify every moth you catch, start with the big, bright, distinctive ones.
  • Check your trap in the morning when the moths are still and relatively easy to observe.
  • Submit your sightings to BC’s Public Group page to check your ID.
  • Record your sightings on an excel sheet and submit to the NI Macro-Moth Recorder.
  • Attend local moth trapping events through BC’s Branch.


Canary-shouldered Thorn by Iain Leach

Help with Identification of Moths

As with butterfly id, going online (to reputable sites!) for moth identification has become a really valuable tool and aid for recorders. Again, the same two pages stand although there are other places to visit, including the two additional sites we’ve listed here:

Butterfly Conservation’s Public Group FB page
Our public group page is really active with some of Ireland’s leading entomologists following it as well as a whole host of fantastic recorders and volunteers. Identification, tips, comments and inspiration can all be found here. It’s educational, insightful and current.

Insects/Invertebrates of Ireland FB page
Another fantastic page that covers all invertebrates found in Ireland. Experts of different invert groups follow the page and kindly provide identification, comments, tips. Educational, fascinating and current again.

Whats flying tonight

This super helpful page tells you what has previously been seen at the same time of year in your area, enter the settings manual to broaden your search or change dates, then close at the X to get your results. An excellent place to start you moth ID adventure.

Moths Ireland
Conveniently this site covers macro- and micro-moths for Ireland. Its distribution maps are quite up-to-date, as much as they can in an ever-changing recording landscape. These also a useful gallery of photographs of larva.


Argent & Sable - Iain H Leach

Surveying and Monitoring

Garden Moth Scheme
To encourage moth recording, BC launched the Garden Moth Scheme a number of years ago. Essentially, we ask recorders to trap their garden once a week, at a time that’s convenient to them and to submit their records to their Moth Recorder. It provides a structure to learning and develops a methodical, sustainable practice we hope!

Moth Night

Organised by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation, Moth Night is the annual celebration of moth recording throughout Britain and Ireland by moth recording enthusiasts with local public events aimed at raising awareness of moths among the general public. Moth Night is normally confined to the warmest months; each event will last for three consecutive nights (Thursday - Saturday) and will take place on different date periods every year. You can participate on any one or more of these days or nights.


Lime Hawk-moth by Adam Gor

Submitting Records and Verification

We appreciate that learning to identify moths takes time and again would strongly suggest that you use the online sites we’ve recommended to help identify species. If you think you’ve found a rare or unusual species, please ensure you keep the specimen in a container and store in a fridge and seek verification.

There are some moth species that are commonly and easily confused. On occasion your moth records may be queried by the Moth Recorder or the National Moth Recording Scheme. Please do not take these queries as an insult. Data verification is very important to ensure quality control for future use of the data. The Northumberland Moth page is a good place to go for tips on separating easily-confused species.

While you can submit your records to the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) online, ideally you should send your macro-moth records  ideally you should send your moth records to the NI Moth Recorder Their details are as follows: