When I tell people I like moths I usually get a pitying look of amused incomprehension or sometimes a suppressed shudder of dislike. Everyone likes butterflies and moths are simply their nocturnal counterparts. The French don’t even have a separate word for moth, they are simply papillon du nuit.
Admiring a butterfly is relatively easy, but seeing a moth that isn’t frying in a lamp shade is more difficult.
I have a simple uv light that attracts them at night. The moths then tumble down into a covered trap where they hide amongst egg boxes provided for their comfort until the morning when I turn out and remove the light. I then carefully remove the egg boxes one by one and the moths allow me to admire and identify them one by one . The identified moths are then gently tapped out into the garden where they hide until night time.
To date I have identified 126 species of moth in my garden from flamboyant hawk moths to tiny delicate plume moths and all the stunningly beautiful creatures in between.
August is underwing time. Many types of apparently dull brown moth have bright flashes of yellow, copper or red only visible when they fly and they are especially common in the late summer. Last night I found Copper Underwing, Broad bordered Yellow underwing, as well as a Mottled beauty, a Jersey Tiger, a lesser Elephant Hawk moth, a Flame Shoulder and my faithful friend the setaceous Hebrew character. One of the great pleasures of identifying moths is the wonderful rich variety of their names, which to me seem redolent of peaceful English Victorian parsonages. I can see vicars taking great pains to differentiate each species for the first time in a tradition that brought us the genius of Charles Darwin.
I wish I had their time to devote this quiet hobby, but I don’t and so it remains a weekend pleasure for starry nights and cool Sunday mornings before the heat of the day takes over.