Maurice Hughes

 Obituaries  Comments Off on Maurice Hughes
Jan 182017

It is with great sadness to inform of the passing of Maurice Hughes.


Maurice closely acquainted with a White Prominent

Maurice was an all-round naturalist with over 30 years’ experience studying Lepidoptera. He was the first Regional Officer for Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2010. In this role one of Maurice’s primary aims was to gain a better understanding of knowledge gaps in the distribution, range and ecology of Lepidoptera in Northern Ireland.

In conjunction with Brian Nelson, Maurice was intrinsically involved in the discovery of Cryptic Wood White in Ireland, painstakingly undertaking dissections of male wood whites and measuring the relevant bits! He also worked tirelessly on behalf of the Marsh Fritillary, championing the species with government, public and anyone who would listen! Maurice became quickly aware of the huge knowledge gap regarding micro-lepidoptera in Northern Ireland and procured funding for the first NI checklist compiled by Ken Bond and published in 2009.

Many moth’ers will be aware that he was an integral part of the team which rediscovered the White Prominent in Ireland in 2008, 70 years after it was last recorded. This was an event which Maurice always recalled with great pride, his joy radiates from the image.

 Posted by at 23:01

Micro-moth maps updated

 website update  Comments Off on Micro-moth maps updated
Dec 112015

About 830 micro-moth maps have been updated. For the first time these include Northern Ireland records to give an all Ireland view of distribution. Click this for the map page or click the map here. This map shows the distribution of Agriphila straminella from the records we have. This species leads the 10km square count, but in reality this moth should have complete coverage but the lack of recording in central Ireland and other areas are the reason for the holes in its distribution.

Please let us know of any errors ie. wrong map, missing species, missing records, erroneous records etc.

 Posted by at 10:08

Species missing from Vice-counties

 Statistics  Comments Off on Species missing from Vice-counties
Nov 302015

Out of our 570+ species of macro-moth, only 34 have been recorded from all 40 Irish vice-counties.

These are
Emperor Moth
Flame Carpet
Silver-ground Carpet
Garden Carpet
Shaded Broad-bar
Common Carpet
Common Marbled Carpet
Green Carpet
Clouded Border
Brimstone Moth
Mottled Beauty
Common Heath
Common Wave
Poplar Hawk-moth
Garden Tiger
White Ermine
Buff Ermine
Heart and Dart
Large Yellow Underwing
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Small Square-spot
Smoky Wainscot
Angle Shades
Dark Arches
Small Wainscot
Burnished Brass
Silver Y
Plain Golden Y
Straw Dot
Common Rustic agg.

If you’re wondering what vice-counties and/or macro-moths are then, hopefully the following helps.
For biological recording Ireland is divided into 40 regions. See this page for more info. Macro-moth are generally the larger moths. There are exceptions as the division between macro and micro-moths was based on families and not wholly on size.

The last species in the list above is not a single species but an aggregate of 2 that cannot be separated on external features. The vast bulk are left undetermined as simple recorded as an agg. There are a few aggregates among the macro-moths.

What is notable about the above list is how short it is! The list of common and widespread species is many times bigger! Below are species that have been recorded in at least 37 VCs along with the VCs they are missing from. Perhaps you can fill some gaps. Maybe you have already noted this species but never submitted the sighting?

Ghost Moth – Cavan
Map-winged Swift – Cavan
Peach Blossom – Monaghan
Buff Arches – North Tipperary
Small Fan-footed Wave – Longford
Single-dotted Wave – Longford
Riband Wave – Longford
Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet – Monaghan
Yellow Shell – Sligo
Small Phoenix – Longford
July Highflyer – Longford
Magpie Moth – Monaghan
Latticed Heath – West Cork
Early Thorn – Monaghan
Scalloped Oak – Longford
Swallow-tailed Moth – Longford
Peppered Moth – Monaghan
Elephant Hawk-moth – Monaghan
Pale Prominent – Dublin
Flame – Monaghan
Flame Shoulder – Monaghan
Lesser Yellow Underwing – Longford
Double Dart – North Tipperary
Ingrailed Clay – Laois
Double Square-spot – North Tipperary
Bright-line Brown-eye – Longford
Broom Moth – Longford
Clouded Drab – Carlow
Hebrew Character – Laois
Common Wainscot – Monaghan
Rosy Rustic – Longford
Beautiful Golden Y – Laois
Dark Spectacle – Longford, Leitrim
Fox Moth – Laois, Kilkenny
Grass Emerald – Monaghan, Longford
Common Emerald – Monaghan, Longford
Oblique Carpet – Laois, Longford
Grey Pine Carpet – Monaghan, Longford
Spruce Carpet – Cavan, Longford
Common Pug – Laois, Longford
V-Pug – Laois, Longford
Brown Silver-line – Monaghan, Westmeath
Canary-shouldered Thorn – Monaghan, NE Galway
Willow Beauty – Monaghan, Kilkenny
Common White Wave – Monaghan, Kilkenny
Light Emerald – South Tipperary, North Tipperary
Pebble Prominent – Monaghan, Longford
Coxcomb Prominent – Laois, Kilkenny
Ruby Tiger – South Tipperary, North-east Galway
True Lover’s Knot – Carlow, Longford
Purple Clay – Cavan, Laois
Dotted Clay – Carlow, Kilkenny
Square-spot Rustic – Laois, Longford
Early Grey – Laois, Monaghan
Light Arches – Longford, Carlow
Dusky Brocade – Laois, Monaghan
Gold Spot – Longford, Kilkenny
Herald – Laois, Longford
Large Emerald – Laois, Longford, Monaghan
Broken-barred Carpet – Longford, Cavan, North Tipperary
May Highflyer – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Ruddy Highflyer – Monaghan, Longford, Carlow
Sharp-angled Carpet – Longford, Kilkenny, North-east Galway
Narrow-winged Pug – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Double-striped Pug – Monaghan, Longford, Cavan
Scalloped Hazel – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Brussels Lace – Longford, Kilkenny, North Tipperary
Clouded Silver – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Humming-bird Hawk-moth – Laois, Offaly, Leitrim
Iron Prominent – Monaghan, Longford, North Tipperary
Lesser Swallow Prominent – Monaghan, Longford, North-east Galway
Pale Tussock – Monaghan, Longford, West Donegal
Common Footman – Monaghan, Leitrim, East Donegal
Six-striped Rustic – Laois, Kilkenny, North Tipperary
Grey Arches – Monaghan, Longford, North Tipperary
Common Quaker – Laois, Carlow, North-east Galway
Black Rustic – Laois, Monaghan, North-east Galway
Clouded-bordered Brindle – Monaghan, Longford, Carlow
Middle-barred Minor – Longford, Kilkenny, South Kerry
Marbled White Spot – Monaghan, Kilkenny, Cavan
Gold Spangle – Monaghan, Carlow, Roscommon
Small Fan-foot – Laois, Longford, Kilkenny

The same counties are repeated many times. In particular Longford and Monaghan have very small species lists and Laois isn’t much better. 3 or 4 trapping sessions spread through the year in reasonable habitat could double the Longford list.
I’ll do another post about numbers of species per vice-county.

 Posted by at 22:19

Macro-moth maps updated

 website update  Comments Off on Macro-moth maps updated
Nov 222015

2107 The macro-moth maps have been updated. These include an updated Northern Ireland dataset and the combined datasets make up in excess of 600,000 records. The maps can be access from here

There are also some special maps

Finally clicking the image here will open an explanation page which gives a brief outline of the numbering or code system and all the other data visible on the maps.


The micro-moth maps are even longer waiting for an update. This will happen before next season and will also have Northern Ireland data included.


 Posted by at 08:04

Chris Wilson

 Obituaries  Comments Off on Chris Wilson
Sep 292015

It is with sadness to note the recent passing of Chris Wilson. Our deepest sympathy to family and friends and while he will be greatly missed, he will forever be fondly remembered. Below are tributes from Ken Bond and Michael O’Donnell.

I first got to know Chris Wilson when he was based in Co. Tipperary, and recording the Lepidoptera of Cappamurra Bog. Over the following years we exchanged many emails about moth identification, and I soon realised how wide his knowledge of wildlife ranged. When he later moved to live close to The Raven, Co. Wexford, he set up a weather station there, and we were then able to share our interest in meteorology too; this included the phenomenal rainfall in August 1997 that happened to peak around The Raven. I was able to visit Chris and Anne at their home in Ballinamorragh the previous month, providing an opportunity to trap moths there and to have a guided tour from Chris of The Raven. I still well remember this occasion, both because of his knowledge of the area, and the impression made on me by the diverse fauna of the area. I regret that I was unable to make an intended return visit. How perceptive of significant details he was is shown be the fact that Chris was probably the first person to mention to me that he noticed a decline in the Wall Brown butterfly and to comment on unusual features he noticed locally in what was then simply known as the “Wood White”. His reports on the fascinating journey to Antarctica showed another facet of his wide interests. He achieved a remarkable amount in the field of Irish natural history, and he will be sorely missed.

Ken Bond.

Chris moved to Co. Wexford in 1991 when he got the position of Warden at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve where he remained for 16 years before taking early retirement to focus on his travels and set up his own environmental consultancy. His travels brought him to every continent but particularly to Antarctica where he lectured on cruise ships about the exploration and wildlife of that continent. Always active, he was involved in numerous projects including butterfly, bumblebee, bird, hedgerow and cetacean surveys. He was an active bird-ringer and was warden of the tern colony at Lady’s Island Lake for a number of years. He was instrumental in setting up the Wexford Naturalists’ Field Club in 2004 and enthusiastically promoted the wildlife of Wexford at every opportunity. Always approachable and always happy to share his knowledge, he led numerous field-trips and regularly gave lectures for WNFC. In recent years his enthusiasm for moths was rekindled. Knowing the importance of getting the identification correct so that the record could stand up to scrutiny, Chris was never afraid to ask for help if he was unsure of something. He was always delighted to see a new species, even if it was a common species that he had never seen before. In 2009 he co-authored the WNFC publication The Lepidoptera of County Wexford and also co-authored The Odonata of County Wexford in 2015. He was actively working on the next WNFC publication on the Shieldbugs and Ladybirds of County Wexford. Knowing that he did not have much time left, he wanted to make sure that all his records were up to date and had been submitted to the relevant recorders. MothsIreland received his final batch of records only two weeks before his death. A thorough professional in everything he did and an absolute gentleman, Chris will be deeply missed throughout the recording community.

Michael O’Donnell.

Other tributes

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group
South East Radio
Nature Glenelg Trust South Australia
Edward Wilson of the Antarctic

 Posted by at 20:43

Submitting records with touch screen and mobile theme

 website update  Comments Off on Submitting records with touch screen and mobile theme
Sep 132015

There is a new form for submitting records which is hopefully touch screen friendly for most of you. It’ll only take one or two records, so trap lists can continue to be entered in form that has been available.

What will hopefully work on touch screen is the auto complete for the species. Enter any part of name, English or scientific, or number old or new and the matching options will decrease as you type.

This has only been tested on my new android phone, so hopefully it’ll work on iphone or older android devices. On my phone the auto complete only works after selecting Desktop which is available by swiping to bottom of page. (see 1st picture)

While I was messing with this, I’ve changed the mobile theme and made the menu more concise by omitting parts of website which are not small friendly.


 Posted by at 20:16

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae proved resident in Ireland

 Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae proved resident in Ireland
Sep 092015

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae, Phibsborough Dublin Sept 2015 © Gavin Hoey 

Two eagle eyed girls spotted a large caterpillar which had fallen out of a Lime tree in Dublin.

This was identified as Lime Hawk-moth and photos were forwarded to MothsIreland for confirmation. The blue horn, the warts on the anal flap and the green head with white stripes are diagnostic. This is the 3rd Irish record. The 2 previous records were both adults and both also north Dublin City.

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae, Baldoyle Dublin, June 2015 ©Cian Merne

The first Irish record was in 2010 in Drumcondra. It was not known if it was of local origin or perhaps flew in from Britain where it is well established in southern England.

The case that it is resident became much stronger with the 2nd Irish re

cord of an adult that came to light earlier this year in Baldoyle. There’s no question about its residency now!

The species has been spreading northwards in England and so perhaps it will be seen away from north Dublin soon. It isn’t restricted to Lime. Birch and Alder regularly host the species and other tree species may be used as well.

Maybe you’ve seen either the caterpillar or adult, but didn’t know what it was or know of the significance? We’d like to hear about it.

 Posted by at 22:21

Goat Moth, large pink/reddish purple caterpillar

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Goat Moth, large pink/reddish purple caterpillar
Aug 242015

Goat Moth Caterpillar with €2 coin, © Andrew Kelly


We are in the season for Goat Moth caterpillar sightings. The caterpillars are unmistakable, pink or dark pink on sides and reddish purple on top, about 100mm or 4 inches long and as thick as a finger. Have you seen one? If so, we’d like to know.

The caterpillars spend many years munching away inside trees. Many species of trees can be host. During late summer many mature caterpillars leave the tree and wander looking for a place to pupate. They may remain in pupa state for years before the adult emerges. June is the usual flight season. It’s the wandering caterpillars that are being seen now. Caterpillars of varying sizes can be encountered at other times of year from trees being cut for firewood. Goat Moth is more common than previously thought. While adults are not often seen, there are caterpillar sightings annually from the SW and mid east region.About 20 sightings have been reported during 2015. Can you add other sightings?

 Posted by at 09:17

Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella present in Ireland

 Leaf Mine, New to Ireland  Comments Off on Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella present in Ireland
Aug 032014

Cameraria ohridella was first confirmed in Ireland in south Dublin during 2013. In recent weeks, (June & July 2014) as well as throughout Dublin, mines and adults have been noticed in Belfast, Cavan, Louth and Wicklow and while many searches of trees have been negative it is likely to be more widespread than the current distribution map indicates.

As I write this the 2 maps above are the same. The map on left will stay fixed as a snapshot of what is known on 1st Aug 2014, the right map will update when further sightings are confirmed.

We would like you to look for mines of this species in your area on Horse Chestnut trees (Conker Tree) While fresh mines are distinctive, the old mines are brown as is leaf blotch, a fungal disease which can be found, sometimes very extensively on practically all Horse Chestnut trees. For the inexperienced this blotch can be easily interpreted as mines. If in doubt it is probably blotch

If you feel you have a definite sighting of a mine, forward a photo via Ask an Expert
If we can confirm we will add your sighting to the map.

The following 3 photos, courtesy of Dave Allen indicate of what to look out for. the fresh mines are pale and obvious. Part of the mine is usually a darker blotch and frass and a caterpillar may be visible. The mines may join together and many caterpillars may be visible together. The most likely location on tree is low, usually within reach and often near the trunk. The caterpillar pupates inside the mine. The 2nd photo shows an exit case. These are often seen sticking out of the leaf. If it has fallen out then a hole is left. The 3rd photo shows many mines in a leaf.

Further information

British Leafminers

Cameraria ohridella has a very recent history having been first observed in Macedonia in 1984. It was first observed in Britain in 2002
See wikipedia for more info

 Posted by at 17:28

Find your Moth

 website update  Comments Off on Find your Moth
Jul 162014

We get a lot of identification requests, so to assist you we have a Find your Moth page.

It gives links to Common Moths gallery, day-flying species gallery and caterpillar gallery. Also we’ve launched a keyword filter

It’s not comprehensive but it does cover the moths that make up the bulk of identification requests.

See how you get on and tell us if any of these resources helped you to identify a moth.

And to perhaps help you on your way, here are a couple that are being asked a lot at moment.

Small Magpie

Poplar Hawk-moth

 Posted by at 16:11