It was early February 2021, round about the 4th, when I made the final decision to buy a moth trap for the garden. I did some research online looking at various retailers of equipment. I had an idea of how much I’d like to spend it was just finding the right trap for us and I couldn’t decide with out expert input. So I joined the local online community on social media, Cumbria Moth Group. With over two hundred group members, I thought it would be the best place to get advice on the most suitable trap for our garden so I got in touch with a post seeking advice on the group page. I must doff my cap to this online community as quite a few members got in touch with loads of great advice. Our garden is quite small and we share it with our neighbour, so I didn’t want to buy a larger trap like a Robinson at this stage. The garden is also not very traditional in its layout. As we step out of the back door and round a corner the garden is elevated above us, up four steps. The properties were once part of a larger country estate, purpose unknown but may have been stables or similar. Once the steps are ascended there is a narrow paved pathway with a small lawn of field grass on either side. The side that we use is planted with various shrubs and flowers, ornamental and wild in borders, on two sides with a shed at one end. We have a couple of wood piles in the border, plus a wood store for our winter logs for the wood burner. One side of the garden is bordered by a stone wall ten feet high which acts as the boundary between us and the larger property next door. A further raised section is accessed by a further flight of steps with a small rockery and lower walls. We are adjacent to the garden of the next door property at this end of the garden and we can also see agricultural fields and are about 30 metres from a river. We have quite a number of well established trees nearby, for example, walnut and mulberry and are very close to a large garden centre and nursery so have a fantastic array of food sources for moths in the locale. So, it isn’t a large area by any means but due to the elevation we have good visibility over a large area. The advice from the moth group indicated that for garden use it would be a good idea to try a mains operated Heath trap with an actinic bulb. I found a supplier of traps of various shapes and sizes online and plumped for a 20W actinic compact trap. Heath traps use a small fluorescent energy saving bulb which emits a whitish blue light, which hopefully does not disturb the neighbours. The bulb hangs down under a circular rain shield and has three fins which, when they are attracted to the light, the moths are directed down a funnel and into the depths of the dark box shaped trap. I had seen egg boxes used previously in traps, so collected our used boxes and popped a few in the bottom of the box. The moths, once in the trap, shelter in the shadows of the egg boxes which stows them safely away from predators until morning. The trap I bought has a ten metre cable and plug which goes directly into the mains via the kitchen window. I can also extend this using a traditional extension lead, protected from the elements by popping it in the shed. I thought it best to try this method of trapping first before purchasing a battery operated trap which would allow me to trap in different areas, one for the future. I also purchased various sizes of sample pots, for potting specimens for identification purposes and of course, a guide to macro moths to aid identification. Pots also allow me to pop the specimens in the fridge for a couple of hours to settle them down. I’ll let you know how the first trapping went in my next blog. Just to let you know, the moths are unharmed during the trapping process and are released in a place of safety once recorded.

I also found out that there was a gentleman who used to trap in my village, Jeremiah (Jerry) Briggs. He used to keep extensive notes and had a vast number of specimens. He retired to our village from the Bradford area, his collection along with the collection of his friend, Mr Cecil Haxby, are housed at Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley, West Yorkshire. I hope to visit and view the collection soon and look at the diaries and notebooks of Jerry Briggs. Dr. McGowan of the Museum has written a blog about this:

Compact 20W actinic Heath trap
Some of the egg boxes in the trap

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