Magical moths!

30th June 2020

The David Attenborough Building was redeveloped with lots of features designed to encourage biodiversity, including a green roof planted with local chalk grassland species, courtyard gardens with ponds, and bird and bat boxes. We’ve had some success with our bird boxes, including lots of interest from swifts. You can watch a live-stream of our swift boxes here. Last year we had a successful pair of nesting blackbirds in one of our courtyards as well as lots of pigeons, of course!

Although we don’t yet monitor our wildlife formally (plans were in place to start this spring and like everything else have been put on hold) we have, over the past two years, been using a moth trap on the roof. We have had over 80 species so far, which we think is pretty amazing for a 5 storey, city centre building with not much surrounding vegetation. Here’s the trap set up on the roof last year – the plants had dried out and gone crispy as we’d had a run of very hot, dry weather. But we still had a very successful night; on the right we’re unpacking the hundreds of moths we caught!

As we can’t access our building at the moment we’ve been using the moth trap in some of our staff gardens instead. We’ve had some beautiful catches, including this fabulous line-up of hawk moths!

Left-right: Elephant, eyed and privet hawk moths

We use a Robinson trap with a mercury vapour bulb, and there are lots of options if you want to buy a trap- look here for some suggestions and advice. Or have a go at making your own with a white sheet, some empty egg boxes, and a bright torch!