Moths Count Update
It is almost a year since Butterfly Conservation officially launched Moths Count. This partnership project aims to raise awareness of the importance of moths, stimulate and encourage moth recording in the wider community, and to establish an ongoing National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS) for macro-moths. The NMRS database will provide status, trend and distribution information which will, among many other things, help to identify conservation priorities for the 900+ species of macro-moth.
The Moths Count team has been very busy arranging public moth events to draw in new people to moth recording. In 2007, 33 of these free events were held, attracting over 700 people, many of whom had no previous mothing encounters! Several were held with primary schools. The project also developed Garden Moths Count, a simple ‘citizen science’ survey of distinctive, common moths aimed at the gardening public and their families. Attractive and informative leaflets and fact sheets were produced to help people find out more about moths and moth recording. We believe that engaging and enthusing new people, especially children, is important for the future of moth recording.
Our free training events, which aim to support and enhance the skills of the existing moth recording community, were highly successful in 2007. Over 300 people attended a range of training courses and feedback was very positive. The training was aimed at moth recorders with varying levels of experience from ‘introduction to moths’ events through to identifying difficult moths by their genitalia and surveys for UK Biodiversity Action Plan moths. At least 70 more public moth events and training workshops are planned for 2008. For further details of events near you please visit www.mothscount.org.
Much behind the scenes work has been going on leading to the establishment of the NMRS. Database hardware and software have been installed, the NMRS data policy has been circulated and a national recording network has been developed. For the first time in a quarter of a century, we have a national recording scheme that covers all of the macro-moths! The national network continues to grow and 25 new County Moth Recorders have been recruited to fill gaps. The four national gatherings for moth recorders held in 2007 were a huge success. These meetings took place in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. In the autumn we will be holding a meeting in Northern Ireland and discussions are underway for a visit to the Channel Islands. Further national meetings are planned in 2009, and further details will follow once dates and locations have been finalised.
Progress with the National Moth Recording Scheme database is forging ahead and County Moth Recorders are being approached for copies of local datasets. At the time of writing, we have collated 23 vice-county datasets, equating to around 2.5 million moth records! These are currently being formatted for incorporation into the NMRS database. A further wave of dataset requests will go out shortly. Over the next few months, the NMRS database will continue to grow not only in the number of records, but also in geographical coverage. Later this year, we hope to produce the first provisional distribution maps through the Moths Count website – the first time national maps have been available for all of the macro-moths. How can you take part in the NMRS? It is easy, simply continue to send your moth records to your County Moth Recorder.
During 2008, we will also start to put together a critical species booklet. This will be an up-to-date resource about moths that are troublesome to identify. We will continue to support the existing moth recording community in various ways including the provision of an extended program of training events. Don’t forget National Moth Night (and day) on 7 June 2008; as ever, many events have been planned by local moth groups, natural history societies and Butterfly Conservation branches for the annual celebration of moths and moth recording. With a daytime element and the first ever target habitat (orchards), there is every reason to organise a public event and introduce new people to the wonderful world of moths. Garden Moths Count will run again this year from 21 June to 6 July; this two week window will hopefully provide some great conditions for moths. There is also a year-long online survey of the Humming-bird Hawk-moth being carried out in association with BBC Radio 4. The beauty of these Garden Moths Count surveys is that participants do not need any specialist equipment or knowledge to get involved so they are ideal for friends and family who are not yet active moth-ers. For further details visit www.mothscount.org.
The recruitment and engagement of the public will also continue so we have another busy year ahead of us! The Moths Count team would like to thank all of the enthusiastic individuals and organisations who are continuing to support this exciting project.
For more information about the Moths Count project or National Moth Recording Scheme or to join the project mailing list please visit www.mothscount.org or contact email@example.com, 01929 406009 or Butterfly Conservation, Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Dorset BH20 5QP.
Zoë Randle and Richard Fox, Moths Count, Butterfly Conservation.