Moth recording at Pitsford Reservoir

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Pitsford Water Nature Reserve occupies an area of some 500 acres forming the northern half of the larger Pitsford Reservoir which was built in the early 1950ís to supply Northampton with water.

The nature reserve is primarily wetland and woodland habitat with areas of neutral grassland. The whole reservoir was designated as a SSSI in 1970 and is owned by Anglian Water who manage the site in partnership with The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

In 1999, the then Reserve Warden for the site, Phil Horsnail, set up two static, non-kill, MV moth traps at the site. With the help of Wildlife Trust Staff and volunteers, the nature reserve has been monitored on a daily basis for macro moths right through the year since 1999. The location of the traps has remained uniform throughout with one by the waterís edge and one in the woodland (although the woodland trap did have to be moved by 50m in 2013 into similar habitat). This constant effort monitoring has built up an excellent data set which is valuable to the site management as well as county and national data sets.

On average, the combined totals for the traps can be around 21,200 moths from approximately 274 species. The total number of macro moth species recorded for the traps between 1999 and 2017 is 394, but the site has a total of 408 (including species such as clearwings and day-fliers). 361 micro moths have also been recorded from the site. These totals act as an index for population fluctuations rather than as absolute abundances as they do not account for re-trapped moths. Preliminary studies have taken place to investigate re-trapping and predation of moths around the traps, but results were inconclusive and further investigation is needed. Most of the species recorded are widespread and common with occasional appearances from migrants and local species. The common species have built up good long-term trends for the on-site populations which can be compared to weather details and national trends. Most of these species on site mirror the national trends, although a few nationally declining species (Fox et al, 2013) appear to be stable or increasing on site.

For more information about moth trapping at Pitsford Water Nature Reserve, please contact

Reference Fox, R, Parsons, M.R., Chapman, J.W., Woiwood, I.P., Warren, M. & Brooks, D.R. (2013) The State of Britains Larger Moths 2013, Butterfly Conservation and Rothamsted Research, Wareham, Dorset, UK






1998 Macro Moth List
1999 Macro Moth List
2000 Macro Moth List
1998 Macro Moth All Records
csv format
1999 Macro Moth All Records
csv format
2000 Macro Moth All Records
csv format
1998 Micro Moth Report
1999 Micro Moth Report
2000 Micro Moth Report
2000 Macro Moth Summary
2000 Macro Moth Top 20
2000 Macro Moth Migrants






2003 Moth Report
2004 Moth Report
2005 Moth Report
2003 Macro Moth Summary
2004 Moth Summary
2003 Macro Moth Top 20
2003 Macro Seasonal Anomolies
2003 Macro Moth Report To Date
2003 Micro Moth Report






2006 Moth Report
2006 Macro Moth Summary
2006 Macro Moth Top 20
2006 Macro Summary To Date


Moth Traps
Each trap attracts insects using a 150w Mercury vapour lamp
Trap 1 - This trap is situated by the boat mooring and has run continuously since December 1998
Trap 2 - This trap is situated in woodland adjourning the lodge and has run continuously since March 1999

Contributors to Moth recording at Pitsford Reservoir
Identification: Mischa Cross, Bob Gill, Pete Sharpe, Diane Sharpe, David Manning