Mad about moths

moth trapping

In this Q&A, our Giant's Causeway Area Ranger Dr. Cliff Henry, talks about what he loves about moths. From the massive hairy caterpillars that frighten predators – he has seen them startle dogs - to the micromoths, smaller than a grain of rice that live inside leaves.

What is it that you find fascinating about moths?

Few other insects can match them for disguise - from caterpillars that look like dead sticks, to adult moths that look like bird poo, or a rolled up leaf - unless they move they can be impossible to find.

" Some of our biggest and most beautiful moths can be persuaded to pose for photos on a finger"
- Dr. Cliff Henry

Other species use bright pink, yellow or metallic gold, silver or purple to attract a mate. Their super-powerful senses of smell and ability to migrate thousands of miles are also incredible. All in all they are an amazing group of insects.

What can we do for moths in our own garden?

Just like us, moths need somewhere to live and something to eat. They need a variety of undergrowth, bushes and trees to shelter in. Caterpillars need leaves to feed on. 

Neatly cut grass and weeded borders are a like a barren desert for most moths. Native plants and things we regard as weeds are often good food sources for caterpillars.  

If you can, leave a corner of your garden for weeds and wildflowers to grow in.  Some moths will also benefit from sources of nectar. More advice can be found on Butterfly Conservation’s web page.

Dr. Henry shines a torch into a box where moths may be trapped.
The picture shows Cliff Henry shining a light into a moth trap box to examine the contents