The recent spell of warm and dry weather probably encourages us all to get outdoors a wee bit more to enjoy the countryside. At this time of year, we can already see early fledgelings still being fed by parents or enjoy the aerial antics of Swifts, Swallows or martins as the swoop for insects.

Of course, for a committed Ecologist, the warm weather also provides the opportunity to enjoy some of our harder to see but no less amazing wildlife. Dusk and dawn surveys leads to encounters with Badgers or baby Fox cubs as they venture out of their setts or dens. A midday walk can lead to some fantastic sightings of butterflies or dragonflies or even the occasional day-flying moth.

Moths are a particularly fascinating group of species to study. There are almost 1,500 species recorded in Ireland (and more being recorded every year). Although some can be rather dull brown and drab, some of them put butterflies to shame with their bright colours and amazing patterns.

The best way to see Bordered Gothic moths

One of the best way to see moths is when they come to light at night. An outside light left on after dark can attract several individuals, but a specially designed moth trap, with special bulbs, can attract hundreds of individuals from perhaps 100 different species on a warm and calm evening, such as those we have been experiencing in recent weeks.

Ireland also has some special moth species, such as the Irish Annulet (ssp. Hibernica is endemic to Ireland) and Burren Green (which only occurs on the Burren and nowhere else in Ireland or the UK).

The photo here shows the Irish subspecies of Bordered Gothic (ssp. Hibernica), recently captured by an INIS Ecologist on the south coast of Cork (they only occur on the south coast of Ireland, from Waterford to Kerry).

Identification of moths isn’t easy, but there is a very helpful Mothsireland website and Facebook Page to help. Also, the second Mothsireland Conference is taking place later this month in Co. Laois.