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Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom
FSC Preston Montford has been an outdoor classroom since 1957 and is a Field Studies Council centre. We deliver curriculum related outdoor education by the experts; from pre-school to Masters level; for infants, school students, undergraduates and enquiring adults with an interest in the natural world. Courses for schools and individuals. A venue for others to use; with bed space for 130, catering facilities and 7 fully equipped teaching and meeting spaces.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Marvellous Moths

Last week heralded the start of this year's moth trapping at Preston Montford and now the warmer weather has arrived we'll be monitoring them at least once a week. We use a 'skinner trap' - a plywood box with a mercury vapour bulb on top and plastic 'baffles' that allow the moths to fall into the box (but make it difficult for them to escape) which we fill with empty egg cartons and set out in a suitable location in the evening. Many moths are feeding on sallow (willow) blossom at the moment, so one of the key areas for monitoring is near our ponds. Light-trapping is a very effective way of finding out which species of moths we have on the estate and our skinner trap does not harm them - any moths that are attracted to the light and fall into the box can rest safety in the egg cartons until morning and they are released after we have identified and counted them.
Skinner trap

Many people think of moths as the brown, drab cousins of butterflies, and although its true that many moths are well camouflaged, once you start to study them you'll find many are beautiful and very colourful. There are only 59 species of butterfly that breed regularly in the UK and Ireland but there are over 880 species of macro-moth (and around 2500 moth species if you include micro-moths as well). With practice, it is easy to learn some of the commoner species, but it does take a while to become an expert so a good moth book really helps with identification. Luckily our first trapping session coincided with an Open University Pollinators course that was being run at Preston Montford so there were several experts on hand to help. 

Here are some of the moths we've caught this month.

Common Quaker

Early Grey

Pine Beauty

Purple Thorn

Red Sword-grass


Twin-spotted Quaker

Different moths are active at different times of the year, and there are some real beauties out there, so watch this space - we'll be posting more pictures throughout the season.....

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