Butterflies and Moths


Insects like butterflies and moths are indicators of the health of our environment because they are very sensitive to change.

In the last 30 years there has been a catastrophic decline in numbers of butterflies and moths.
For a report on the state of Britain’s moths click here  

To identify a butterfly or day-flying moth, click here 

Butterflies and moths are quite similar to look at but there are some tell-tale differences:
Butterflies seek the sun and are day fliers. Although most moths fly at night some also fly during the day and that can be confusing but there is a sure way to tell them apart.

Butterflies have antennae that have little knobs or ‘clubs’ on  the tips.


 On the left the small tortoiseshell demonstrates the typical antennae of a butterfly. Moths on the other hand have antennae that are either very feathery  in the case of the males, or  very thin  ending in a fine tip in the case of females. The day-flying burnet moth on the right demonstrates a different type, but it is clear to see that there are no club tips, just a feathery hook.

Moth trapping on YACWAG reserves helps us to understand  what moths are there and how to manage the land in a way that does not harm them.
A moth trap is  basically a very bright light  (ultra violet)  with a device so that when moths fly to it they drop down into a container where they remain quietly in the trap until examined and released.  This form of live trapping does not harm the moths.

Click here to let us know if you are interested in joining in some moth trapping sessions.


To report butterflies and moths you have seen click here  to BRERC’s single record page.

For information about the butterflies and moths of YACWAG’s nature reserves click here.

For information about the butterflies of Cadbury Hill and the Strawberry Line click here.

You can help butterflies and moths in your garden – please see YACWAG’s Wildlife Gardening page.


YACWAG works with Yatton Junior School – 5th Dec 2014

YACWAG has been pleased to be working during this term with teacher Mrs Okeden at Yatton Junior School. Gill Brown was able to assist the class on two occasions with work on otters and rivers as part of their curriculum. More recently during the school’s Learning College on Friday afternoons, Sue Lovesey, Faith Moulin and Higgy were able to take part in the Nature Detectives course with a group of children aged from 7 to 10.

Bug Hotel


A bug hotel was made from pallets to attract more invertebrates into the school grounds and there is now a long-term plan to create a wildlife area within the school. YACWAG is delighted to support this initiative and to help the young Nature Detectives, who were keen, enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

Large White caterpillar August 2014

Gardeners may not welcome these caterpillars but it’s good to know that children still find them fascinating!

Large White caterpillar


Moth sightings, May/June 2014

This Scarlet Tiger was seen flying in the day-time in a Yatton garden and was photographed on 4 June 2014 sheltering from the rain in a green, garden waste bag.


This Poplar Hawkmoth was attracted to a light trap during the National Garden Bioblitz weekend.

Poplar Hawkmoth found in Chescombe Road, Yatton on 31 May 2014

Exciting moth found at Littlewood Reserve 29th June 2013


Scallop Shell Moth

2 moth traps were set up at Littlewood Reserve and 30 different moths were recorded.  The star moth was the Scallop Shell (rheumaptera undulata) of which there are only 17 records from the Bristol Region. The Moths of the Bristol Region  describes them as ‘thinly distributed and uncommon resident’. Its habitat is woodland in marshy areas. From 1990 onwards it was designated as very local and very scarce. It is said to be found in the Gordano Valley and some of  the larger woods and known to feed on sallows.  We will pass this record to BRERC (Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre).

Littlewood moth trapping 24 July 2012

Faith and Tony Moulin took advantage of the improvement in the weather and set some moth traps at Littlewood.  Over 100 moths were caught and later safely released –  31 macro species and  2 micros. The largest single count was Smoky Wainscot. 

Smoky Wainscot Littlewood 24 July 2012


Large Emerald Littlewood 24 July 2012