Moth Night: what and when it is, how to take part, and which species to target

Celebrate moths and submit your sightings in this annual recording event. This year's theme focusses on the four red underwing moth species.

Red underwing moth. © Peter Maton

What is Moth Night?

Moth Night is an annual celebration of moth recording in Britain and Ireland. There is a different theme and date each year.

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This recording event is organised by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Normally there would be public events taking place, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no events during 2020.

There are several prizes available to those taking part, more information is available on the Moth Night website:

    • Best record of a migrant moth species
    • Best record of a resident moth species
    • Random draw for 10 participants who submit data
    • Most interesting record of a red underwing species

This year’s date and theme

This year, Moth Night runs between 27 and 29 August 2020, and focusses on the four red underwings. The Moth Night website also shares which other common moth species may be seen during the event.

The What’s Flying Tonight app by CEH is another useful tool, which uses the date and your location to show which species may be flying.

Red underwing (Catocala nupta)

Red underwing moth. © Peter Maton
Red underwing moth. © Peter Maton
  • Resident species
  • Widespread in England, localised in Wales, spreading northwards into Scotland

Rosy underwing (C. electa)

Rosy underwing moth. © Butterfly Conservation
Rosy underwing moth. © Butterfly Conservation
  • Resident species in the Channel Islands, rare immigrant to southern England
  • Recent records from Dorset means it may be becoming established

Dark Crimson Underwing (C. sponsa)

Dark crimson underwing moth. © David G Green
Dark crimson underwing moth. © David G Green
  • Resident species in the New Forest, northern Hampshire and southern Wiltshire. Also an immigrant species.
  • Spike in records in southern England

Light Crimson Underwing (C. promissa)

Light crimson underwing moth. © Matthew Deans
Light crimson underwing moth. © Matthew Deans
  • Resident species, formerly widespread now restricted to the New Forest, northern Hampshire and southern Wiltshire. Also an immigrant species.

Previous themes of Moth Night have included:

  • Clifden nonpareil moth
  • Pyralid moths
  • Moths on flowering ivy

How to attract moths

Across the UK moth-traps and bedding plants will be deployed by thousands of people keen to see the amazing variety of moths that visit our shores or live year-round in our gardens and countryside.

Most moths have a well-known attraction to light, but some with more colourful tastes, can be lured in for a closer look with ropes soaked in alcohol, and the heady scent of the tobacco plant, Nicotiana.

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How to submit your Moth Night sightings

Although there is a theme for Moth Night, all records of moths are welcome to be submitted for the event via the Moth Night website.