Are there tigers and elephants in your garden?

Climate change hasn’t brought tropical animals to our gardens just yet, but big surprises lurk out there in the darkness. Spectacular Garden Tigers, bright pink Elephant Hawk-moths, and intercontinental Humming-bird Hawk-moths provide a touch of the exotic to our garden wildlife.

They might be unseen, but there are lots of moths out there in our gardens, whether you live in the middle of a town or in the heart of the Devon countryside. Hundreds of species can be seen in a single year just in your garden, compared with just a handful or two of butterfly species and a few dozen birds. So moths make up a dazzling diversity of wildlife right on your doorstep.

Find out more about the marvellous moths that live in our Devon gardens come along, this Thursday (28th March) to a free talk by Barry Henwood, County Moth Recorder. See here for details

Garden Tiger (Chris Manley)

Garden Tiger (Chris Manley)

Gathering in the moth records

One of the main activites of Devon Moth Group is recording where different moth species occur within the county. This then improves our knowledge and provides the foundation for conservation of rare or threatened species. Over the years, we’ve amassed an amazing database with over 500,000 records (sightings) of moths.

Despite the poor weather in 2012, recording by members and visitors continued and an impressive total of 35,279 records were submitted by just under 100 recorders to Barry Henwood, the County Moth Recorder. These have now been checked and added to the database. Many thanks to everyone who contributed records to this fantastic total – especially in such a wet year! If you have not yet passed on your Devon moth sightings for 2012, please do so. They will be added to the database and put to use to help study and conserve moths in the county.

The records already received have been analysed and will appear shortly in our Annual Report for 2012. Here’s a sneak preview of the cover of this year’s report. If you are a member, you’ll receive your copy in the post early in April. Even better, come along to our next indoor meeting (the last of the season) on Thursday 28th March in Kennford, nr Exeter, to get your copy early and to hear an excellent talk on Garden Moths by Barry Henwood.

DMG Annual Report 2012 cover_1

Dealing with difficult moths

Many larger moths are easy to identify, some are tricky and a few are just plain difficult. At the beginning of the month, experts from Devon Moth Group held a training workshop to teach advanced identification skills to fellow enthusiasts.

Led by County Moth Recorder, Dr Barry Henwood, and micro-moth experts Bob Heckford and Stella Beavan and kindly hosted by Devon Wildlife Trust, the event was a great success.

Ten moth recorders learnt how to use microscopes to examine minute details of the moths’ anatomy in order to determine species’ identification. Such techniques require a lot of practise so the workshop is just the starting point for the attendees.

Being able to correctly and accurately identify species is the cornerstone of efforts to understand the changing distribution of moths in Devon and conserve those species that are at risk.

Moth identification workshop (Barry Henwood)

Moth art in the Blackdown Hills

Two artists, Jon England and Karin Krommes, are taking part in a series of exhibitions by Blackdown Hills Artists and Makers across the Blackdown Hills in November. Their work looks at the topography and ecology, including moths, of the Blackdown Hills’ three World War II airfield sites.

It can be seen at the Nissen Hut, Cherry Hayes Farm, Slough Lane, Smeatharpe, Devon EX14 9RD, for the next two weekends (10/11th Nov & 17/18th Nov) from 10am – 4pm. For more info on the project please visit: www.bhaam.org.uk

Exhibit from ‘Skills Unearthed’ project by Jon England and Karin Krommes