Submission of Moth Records for VC32 Northamptonshire

Interest in moth recording has seen significant growth in recent years, and as hobbies go, it is one that has the potential to add significant knowledge of ecosystems, habitat changes, climate change, etc. I fully appreciate therefore, that many people visiting this website are doing so as part of that hobby. However, if you are able to submit any sightings and records for the vice county, I would be very keen to receive them – no matter if from the previous year, or gleaned from old notebooks from times past, or simply as a casual observer. I hope to explain a bit more about how that aspect of the group now works.

The Northants moth database currently contains approximately 600,000 records, and is growing all the time as new and archival material is added. These data are held locally by the County Moth Recorder, by the Northamptonshire Biodiversity Records Office and are also submitted to the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS) database hosted by Butterfly Conservation, and shared with Local Record Centres on an annual basis.

General Data Protection Regulation
Due to changes in Data Protection, and the GDPR regulations that came into force on 25th May 2018, I have been advised that this statement be made public to all recorders who submit records for inclusion in the VC32 dataset, and hence further uploaded to the National Moth Recording scheme, as operated by Butterfly Conservation:
By submitting information to the County Moth Recorder for VC32, I agree that it may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically, including via the internet, for conservation, environmental decision-making, education and other public benefit uses in accordance with Butterfly Conservation's data access policy. Names and contact details of recorders will be used for administration and verification purposes only. Your contact details will not be passed on to other parties without your consent, whilst your name will form part of the record that is collated and disseminated in accordance with Butterfly Conservation's privacy policy.
Please also note that if you do not wish to receive direct communications from the VC32 County Moth Recorder, please let me know in writing so that I can remove your details from any email groups etc.
If you have any queries, please drop me a line.

Where to send records
Please submit records of all moth species (macro and micro) to the County Moth Recorder, Mark Hammond (contact details at foot of page), for collation and verification. Other experienced recorders around the county also provide advice and identification assistance, and I'd appreciate that any records you have be sent to Mark at the end of the season (or sooner if you think the record is noteworthy) - and please by the end of January of the following year at the latest. If you also have old records that have not been previously submitted, we would also welcome these at any time.

What is "a record"?
As mentioned above, a record could simply be as a result of casual observations when out for a walk, to a full list of all species seen on a given date, with at least an indication of numbers seen, if not an actual count. And of course, anything in between! The preference is for as much detail as possible, and hence if for instance, you are regularly running a moth trap in your garden, a list of species each night with numbers would be absolutely perfect. These data can be submitted in a variety of ways, as described below.

Essential record information required for NMRS
What: Species vernacular and/or scientific name. If using your own recording spreadsheets, please take care with spellings. I can however cope with "old" taxonomic names.
Where: Name of location, as specific as possible - e.g. address if garden, compartment of a woodland.
Grid Ref: 6-figure Ordnance Survey grid reference (4-fig grids are OK). Please avoid using eastings/northings as these need to be converted to OS grid refs and that manual conversion may lead to errors.
When: If it is from moth-trapping, please use the date that the trap was set (i.e., not the morning of opening/recording). MUST be in the format DD/MM/YYYY.
Abundance: A count of numbers is hugely useful, even if it is an approximation.
Who: Your name! Seems obvious, but... Please do add another name as "Determiner" if someone else confirmed the identification. This can be important especially for new recorders and tricky species (saves me asking awkward questions later...!)
How: Please indicate if it is a general field observation (e.g. seen without use of equipment), attracted to sugar, light trapping, beating or sweeping, etc.
Stage: Indicate if the record is of an adult, larva, pupa, leaf mine etc. NB: In the case of mines and larvae that have been reared for ID purposes, record the date of the find of the immature stage, and not the date of emergence.
Comments: Free-text to add any interesteing or otherwise pertinent detail to the record

Record species binomial - not forms
This is a plea for recorders to submit moths as a Species only and to not use forms of species! This sounds an odd request, but some recording software allows the user to record forms. Sadly MapMate sees these entries as a different species. For example, Riband Wave and Riband Wave [non-banded form]) become listed separately, requiring them to be combined. I would ask if unusual forms and abberations can be noted in the "comments" section.

How to submit records
Records are accepted in any format, but either MapMate output files, or electronically via email are very much the preferred methods. Ideally, as much detail as possible is desirable - an ideal situation is where the totals of moths for each recording session is listed separately. These are preferable to an annual summary list, as these data will allow for much greater analysation in terms of flight periods, fluctuations in numbers from year to year, etc.

The preferred method of submission is an Excel Spreadsheet compatible with a MapMate input file. MapMate is a software programme developed especially for natural history recording. It is cheap and easy to use and more details can be found on the MapMate website at . Current purchase cost is £25, with a £12 annual licence fee to cover continual updates to features and taxonomic data. The basis of biological recording results in “one record per line” – the most accurate therefore being a summary of the numbers of each species seen on a given occasion using a given method. My preferred method for the export of records from MapMate is to use the built-in F9 function. This is quite easy to do, and only needs setting up the once. The following linked document shows you how to do this:
MapMate F9 and record submission
If you are new to MapMate, or would like any further advice regarding the submission of records in electronic format, then please contact Mark Hammond for advice.

Other Methods
(A) Excel spreadsheets. Here is a link to the latest VC32 Moth Recording Excel Sheet (2024 version) especially created for ease of recording and for ease of input into the county database. Please use this template in preference to your own, as many of the scientific names have changed in recent years, as have many vernacular names for the micro-moths.
The file contains three worksheets:
Worksheet 1 contains guidance notes
Worksheet 2 contains all known VC32 moths, listed in ABH order
Worksheet 3 contains macro-moths only, listed in alphabetical order, for those who wish to record only the larger moths.
Simply input the number of individuals recorded in the column under the appropriate date. PLEASE NOTE: many species can only be verified 100% accurately by either looking at their larval stages, or by dissecting the adult moths. Species thus affected are highlighted in the spreadsheet by the "ID Category" column. Explanation of this coding can be found on the Guidance Notes worksheet of the spreadsheet.

(B) Word documents (preferably contained within a table).

(C) On-line recording systems as mentioned below. In all cases, records are repatriated to County Recorders for verification and inclusion into the county database at the end of the recording year.
(i) BC Moth Recording System. Butterfly Conservation host an on-line record system under the Moths Count site.
(ii) iRecord but please use their moth recording form, making sure you are logged in with your Use ID.

As indicated above, there are several related species where great care is needed to establish the correct identification, and require careful consultation of the literature until you are familiar with all the salient identification features. The micro moths are slightly more tricky than most macro moths, and therefore some care is required for certain groups of moths. Remember also that there can be great variation within a species and also between the sexes of some species. Websites can also be a good source of photographs and information, but be aware that these come with a warning - as these are not strictly peer-reviewed and can therefore contain more errors than found within published reference books. Reference to more than a single source is strongly advised. Inexperienced recorders should also note that there are several difficult species that can only be safely determined by more detailed examination, including dissection of the genitalia.

Macro species regularly occurring in Northants that require caution:
•  Red Twin-spot Carpet Xanthorhoe spadicearia / Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet Xanthorhoe ferrugata

•  Riband Wave Idaea aversata / Plain Wave Idaea straminata

•  Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidea / Svensson's Copper Underwing Amphipyra berbera

Macro species regularly occurring in Northants that require supporting evidence of genitalia examination.
NB: These species will be aggregated if evidence not provided:

•  November Moth Epirrita dilutata / Pale November Moth Epirrita christyi / Autumnal Moth Epirrita autumnata

•  Dark Dagger Acronicta tridens / Grey Dagger Acronicta psi

•  Marbled Minor Oligia strigilis / Rufous Minor Oligia versicolor / Tawny Marbled Minor Oligia latruncula

•  Common Rustic Mesapamea secalis / Lesser Common Rustic Mesapamea didyma

•  Ear Moth Amphipoea oculea / Other Ear species

In addition to those highlighted above, rarer migrants, rarer residents or pugs will need verification by someone familiar with the species either by producing the specimen or a good quality photograph (as indicated on the NMG website). The use of digital cameras has transformed the verification process but it should be borne in mind that species cannot always be identified with certainty from a photograph and it is always best to err on the side of caution in your recording. It is always best to retain any moth for which the identification is uncertain - even if a photograph has been taken - until it has been identified with certainty. This is especially so if that specimen is thought to be one of the rarer species in the county and essential if you believe this to be the first county record.

VC32 Northamptonshire County Moth Recorder:
Mark Hammond
9 Osier Way, Thrapston, Northants, NN14 4PH
Email: mark.hammond1966 at
Tel: 07932 642308