Orange Swift


Triodia sylvina – This is from a primitive moth group called Hepialidae, which contains just 5 species found in the British Isles. The adults cannot feed for they have no functional proboscis. The images featured are that of the male. The sexes look quite different from one another.



Orange Swift Triodia sylvina

Orange Swift Triodia sylvina

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Date taken: 2nd August 2011
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Wainscot Smudge


Ypsolopha scabrella – Quite an extraordinary looking little moth with distinctive raised tufts which can be seen when the moth is at rest.


Wainscot Smudge Ypsolopha scabrella


Wainscot Smudge Ypsolopha scabrella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Garden Rose Tortrix


Acleris variegana – An extremely variable micro-moth species in patterning and colouration. A melanic form also occurs. Like other similar species of Tortrix, it mimics bird-droppings to evade predation. The larvae feed on the leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs, including roses, brambles, hawthorns, cherries and apples.


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 23rd, 24th & 30th September 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Old Lady


Mormo maura – You know when this one pays a visit because it is fairly large with a wingspan of up to 65mm (2 1/2in). Not one of the brightest of moths, but it has an interesting, fine-lined pattern.


Old Lady Mormo maura


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 26th August 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Ash-bark Knot-horn


Euzophera pinguis – Quite an unmistakable micro-moth with distinctive zig-zag markings. The larvae feed under the living bark of ash, which if becoming infested may kill the tree. This is a localised species in England.


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Common Plume


Emmelina monodactyla – An odd-looking moth which often rests with its wings rolled tightly up. It is quite a weak flier, and will only travel a short distance before settling down again.


Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Iron Prominent


Notodonta dromedarius – A moth which looks like it is suffering from oxidation with its distinct red rusty markings. One of the easier of the night lepidoptera to photograph. They are fairly calm and will remain still for a long time.


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

The Drinker


Euthrix potatoria – An unusual moth. This is the female of the species. The name comes from the habit of the caterpillar which apparently has a preference for drinking drops of dew.


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Date taken: 26th June 2011
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Maiden’s Blush


Cyclophora punctaria – A finely detailed and beautifully coloured moth from the family Geometridae.


Maiden's Blush Cyclophora punctaria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Lunar Underwing


Omphaloscelis lunosa – There is a dark ‘crescent moon’ marking on the pale underwing of this moth which gives it its name.


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 23rd, 24th & 30th September 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Barred Sallow


Tiliacea aurago – Although this is somewhat faded, it is quite an attractive moth with autumnal colours and a very diagnostic yellow or yellow-orange central band.


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 15th October 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Scarlet Tiger


Callimorpha dominula – This is a wonderfully bright coloured day-flying moth.


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


I found the larva to the adult above feeding on Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) on a walk along a local woodland margin back in the spring of 2012.

Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula caterpillar


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200 (2019) Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 (2012)
Date taken: 29th June 2019 (adult) 16th May 2012 (caterpillar)
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire (adult), local woodland margin, Staffordshire (caterpillar)


 

Heather Knot-horn


Pempelia palumbella – This is another rarity for my county, and only a few have been noted by the Staffordshire Ecological Record, most of these before 1995, the first in 1877. I really like the colours and patterns on this moth. It kind of reminds me of Inca art and design.


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Small Emerald


Hemistola chrysoprasaria – This is rarely seen in my county, and there has only been but a handful of ecologically recorded sightings since the first one in 1967, this one being one of them. A beautiful green moth with distinctive pale crosslines.


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Honeysuckle Moth


Ypsolopha dentella – If you grow honeysuckle in your garden the chances are you may have some of these. This is a chestnut-brown and cream to whitish patterned micro-moth with distinctive upturned wingtips. It has a forewing length of around 11mm ( almost half an inch).


Honeysuckle Moth Ypsolopha dentella


Honeysuckle Moth Ypsolopha dentella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner


Cameraria ohridella – One can easily overlook this tiny micro-moth as it is only has a forewing length of up to 5mm (1/4in) long. The forewings have an attractive ginger ground colour with distinctive white cross-bands and dark-brown cross-lines. It was first recorded in the south of Britain in 2002 and has rapidly spread north and west across England and Wales where it is common.


Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella


Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Long-horned Flat-body


Carcina quercana – This is a fairly colourful moth with very long antennae. Is also called the Oak Long-horn. It has recently been introduced to North America where it is called the Oak-skeletonizer Moth.


Carcina quercana


Carcina quercana


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Want to learn more about this moth? Please visit the species main page.


Hummingbird Hawk-moth


Macroglossum stellatarum – I feel quite privileged to have been able to take these photographs of this splendid hawk-moth. I took them quite a few years ago with my first digital camera purchase back in the summer of 2005, and haven’t been able to capture one in flight and feeding since back then. A spectacular brightly coloured diurnal moth which can be seen sipping nectar in full sunlight with its extraordinary long proboscis. It looks and sounds like a hummingbird as it feeds from tubular flowers such as Red Valerian, Buddleia, Lilac, and the like.


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Sony Cybershot DSC-W1
Date taken: 21st August 2005
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Mint Moth


Pyrausta aurata – Also called the Small Purple & Gold, this moth has always been a regular visitor to my garden, yet I have always grown mint, so that is not really very surprising.


Pyrausta aurata


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Catching Moths


Light Emerald Campaea margaritaria
Light Emerald Campaea margaritaria


This is how I manage to get to see and photograph so many different species of moth in my garden. With Mk III of my homemade moth trap, utilising 2x 20w blacklight bulbs which do not cause light nuisance issues with the neighbours as some of the more powerful mercury vapour lamps do. Already made moth traps can be bought online, but they can be quite expensive.

You can see more clearly where I have removed one half of the lid of this relatively cheap plastic storage box to show how I access the moths the next morning and the egg boxes which they rest inside. I fixed a timber framework to hold the lighting above the funnel (one light worked okay originally, but two seems better – I have since swapped out one of these bulbs for an LED) and then cut the lid in half and around the framework. I fixed a plastic party plate above to help direct the moths between the bulbs into the funnel, and this also acts a rain protector just in case there is any drizzle. I always check weather forecasts for dry nights. Warm and still nights are usually the best. The bulbs are fixed into two batten holders which are wired to a plug. It is always advised to plug into an RCD socket so that if there are any issues with the electrics it should cut out. Please note that any electrical work should be done by a competent person.

The full set-up at the side of my shed can be seen here. The cheap plastic shower curtain reflects the UV light and some moths will settle on it and around it, sometimes around the corners out of the light. A white bedsheet will do just as well. I sometimes leave the outside shed light on in conjunction with the blacklights, and this appears to increase numbers slighty. The trap can be set up up anywhere in the garden, without the shower curtain or white sheets, and if weather conditions are favourable it can still get a fairly decent catch. I have it elevated for convenience’s sake, but it can be placed on the ground, which some trappers prefer to do.


Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica
Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica


All moths are released unharmed into a safe environment once they have been checked and photographed. I do not trap frequently, and very rarely on consecutive days, as this may disrupt their feeding and mating cycles.


Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix)
The Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix


When mothing you can also attract other interesting nocturnal visitors as can be seen in the examples below. These were found resting near the trap and in the trap.


Caperer Caddis Fly Halesus radiatus
Caperer Caddis Fly Halesus radiatus

Dor beetle Geotrupes stercorarius
Dor beetle Geotrupes stercorarius

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum
Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

European Hornet Vespa crabro
European Hornet Vespa crabro


To note not all moths are attracted to light. Some species are attracted to sugars or feromones, which I have not really done as to yet. Some moths can be seen flying during the day just like their butterfly brothers and sisters, but it is at night many of the moth species can be seen attracted to a light source, even if it is just a garden light, or a light in a window.


 

Elephant Hawk-moth


Deilephila elpenor – This hawk-moth always reminds me of a fond time during my boyhood when my brother and I discovered the caterpillar for this moth, and subsequently watched it pupate and turn into this magnificent adult. Hawk-moths can be quite docile creatures in the daytime, and they will let you handle them readily, and tend to be very cooperative and accommodating on a photo shoot. This is one of our most beautiful moths with large pink and olive-green streamlined wings. The name comes from the caterpillar which looks like an elephant’s trunk when it extends itself. This is one of the few caterpillars that can actually swim, in which it may resemble a small grass snake.



Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 6th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Lime Hawk-moth


Mimas tiliae – This is a large and impressive hawk-moth with scalloped-edged forewings and olive-green and pinkish markings. The central dark forewing markings may be variable, and in some individuals may be joined to form a cross-band.


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon Coolpix P500
Date taken: 26th June 2013
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Skin Moth


Monopis laevigella  – A tiny micro-moth with a forewing length of between 5-10mm (1/4-3/8in). The wings have a purple sheen peppered with pale scales and a pale blotch just off centre on the forewing. The larvae feed on animal foodstuffs like bird’s nests, owl pellets and dead animal carcasses.


Skin Moth Monopis laevigella


Skin Moth Monopis laevigella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 28th August 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Green Long-horn


Adela reaumurella – This is the male with his extraordinary long white antennae, which are three times the length of the forewing. The adult flies in May and June, and in the daytime, where they may swarm.


Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D3200
Date taken: 4th May 2015
Place: Local wood, Staffordshire


 

Common Marble


Celypha lacunana – This variable moth has a forewing length of up to 8.5mm (3/8in), and is a common species which can be numerous visiting moth traps.


Common Marble Celypha lacunana


Common Marble Celypha lacunana


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 15th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Coming To Rest

Comma Polygonia c-album

I love seeing these Comma (Polygonia c-album) butterflies in the garden, and occasionally they briefly settle for a moment or two.

September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Black & White

Large White Pieris brassicae

It appears it has been quite a good year here for butterflies, which is really good news. This Large White (Pieris brassicae) made a fleeting visit to my garden before fluttering off over the fence to elsewhere.

These ‘Whites’ can be quite a challenge to photograph, especially in bright sunshine. Auto camera setting never seem to work as the whites get blown out loosing the fine lines and detail in the wings, so I always drop exposure on full manual to try and compensate.

September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Finding Shelter

Cabbage White

Of 2 images. I was sitting in my living room looking out the window when I caught a glimpse of this butterfly as it searched and settled for some shelter between rain showers.

Cabbage White

© Pete Hillman August 2019.

Yellow And Black And Hairy All Over

No wonder the birds don’t fancy eating them and the Ragwort in the fields is teeming with these brightly coloured caterpillars of the Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae), a moth which can be seen flying amongst the grasses during the daytime, especially when disturbed. Please see the adult last in line below.

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae larva

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae larva

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae larva

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae

Local field, July 2019. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

All The Browns

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina male

Out in the local fields these Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) are flourishing this summer. An odd perspective, I know, but sometimes all you get is all they want to show you before they flutter 🙂


Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer on the images …

July 2019, local field, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

A Drink Of Thistle, Thank You

Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola

Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola

Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola

Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola

Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola). The fields have been teeming with these lovely little ones. Many thanks to Brian from the brilliant blog ‘Butterflies To Dragsters‘ for accurately identifying this beautiful species.


Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer on the images …

July 2019, local field, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Around In Circles

Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

Thankfully it appears to be quite a good year for these butterflies, with me spotting quite a few out in the local fields.


July 2019, local field, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Small Grey

Eudonia mercurella

This small moth comes from a challenging group of moths to accurately identify. With a forewing length of up to 9mm (0.4in), this moth can be quite variable, but can usually be identified by its white cross-lines and markings. The adults fly from June to September, and are attracted to light. They are a regular visitor to my garden, and fairly common throughout Britain. It can be found in woodland, grassland and gardens. The larvae feed on mosses.

Small Grey Eudonia mercurella

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, July 2019. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Bird-cherry Ermine


Yponomeuta evonymella – These moths frequently visit my garden, and they are often attracted to light. Its white silken forewings with fives rows of dots make this one of the easier ermels to identify, as many of them can pretty much look the same.


Bird-cherry Ermine Yponomeuta evonymella


Bird-cherry Ermine Yponomeuta evonymella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 15th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Red-barred Tortrix


Ditula angustiorana – This is quite a small species of Tortrix moth, and I believe this to be the male which is darker than the female, and is a little smaller.


Red-barred Tortrix Ditula angustiorana


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 15th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Willow Beauty

Peribatodes rhomboidaria – The Willow Beauty is a variable moth and may be confused with other ‘Beauty’ species. It has a wingspan of 30-38mm. An important feature in identification is the cross-line on the forewing beyond the middle which is strongly kinked near the leading edge. It is more or less straight in trailing half, and forms a dot on each vein. The adult flies mainly June to August, but in the south a second generation form August to October. Readily comes to light, sometimes in fair numbers. Found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. Common and widespread, and resident. The larvae feed on a range of broadleaved trees, shrubs and climbers, including privet, Honeysuckle and birches.

Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, July 2019. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Showing A Bit of Forewing

Marbled White Melanargia galathea
Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)

Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer.


July 2019, local field, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Butterfly Perspective

Green-veined White Pieris napi
Green-veined White (Pieris napi)

I believe this is the first time I have seen one of these gorgeous butterflies visit the garden.

Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer.


July 2019, rear garden, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.