Moth Surveys

Hibernating Heralds

The Herald is a beautiful moth that occurs throughout Scotland but is only sparsely recorded. We would like you to help us find more hibernation sites by checking dark corners of unheated outbuildings in your garden or when you are out and about. All you need is a torch and a bit of time to search carefully. Submit your sightings by clicking on the iRecord image. Find out more on this Facebook page.

Heralds are one of only a few UK moths that spend the winter hibernating as an adult, and this is one of the easiest times to find them as they shelter in outhouses, cellars, ruined buildings and caves. In a few weeks in November 2016 a few recorders have spent some time searching suitable dark places across the Lothians and have found more Heralds in the region than have been recorded across Scotland in the last four years!

To submit your sightings you will need to provide your name, the location of the Heralds (Grid Reference or Postcode and the type of building or structure they are in), the number you see and a photograph. The easiest way to enter records is by joining the Hibernating Heralds Activity. Alternatively post a photo and location details on our Facebook page. You can also follow and contribute on Twitter #hibernatingheralds.

Keep an eye out for hibernating butterflies as well; for example Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells are likely to hibernate in similar spaces and it would be interesting to know more about their overwintering distributions.

Some of these locations can be dangerous and you should take appropriate precautions.  These conditions are often favoured by bats. If you plan to investigate these types of locations then please contact your local bat group (see  or if you know of someone with an SNH bat licence to find out whether there are bats there and, if so, whether you can join them on one of their monitoring visits. You must be careful not to intentionally or recklessly disturb any bats as disturbance during their hibernation can affect the survival chances of these protected species. If you do inadvertently find any bats then you should leave promptly and your local bat group would be delighted to know.

For members of organisations such as bat groups, caving clubs and historic properties here is a Scottish Hibernating Moth Survey Form download link to a document with some information and identification pictures. It also has a record form on the back with an email address to send it back to.

Priority Moths for surveys in East Scotland

We have many moths in the branch area which are rare and important for survey and conservation work. Some have extremely limited distributions in the UK or are restricted to remoter areas or habitats which may be under threat, often inadvertently, from land management practices or simple neglect.

There are great opportunities to get involved with very valuable surveys which are aimed at better defining the distributions of these moths. See the Regional Action Plan web page for more details. The top priority species are listed below:

High Priority

Dark Bordered Beauty
Kentish Glory
Small Dark Yellow Underwing
Netted Mountain Moth
Mountain Burnet
Northern Dart

Medium Priority

Cousin German
Welsh Clearwing
Rannoch Brindled Beauty
Rannoch Looper
Rannoch Sprawler
Broad-bordered White Underwing
Slender-striped Rufous
Goat Moth
Heath Rivulet
Small Chocolate-tip
Silvery Arches

A lot of survey and conservation efforts have already gone into some of these species but there remains much more to discover about their distributions and necessary habitat requirements, which are often difficult to determine. Knowing precisely where they can be found and where they are absent in apparently similar habitats can give important clues about their environmental and resource needs. This knowledge then feeds in to conservation actions.

Rannoch Sprawler (Barry Prater)

Silvery Arches (Mark Cubitt)

Sword-grass (Mark Cubitt)

If you want to contribute to surveys and searches for any of these moths a good place to start your planning is the Moth Maps and Dates page on this web site where you can find details of flight periods, distributions at the 10km level and also get a feel for the frequency at which a species has been recorded in a given area. While some survey work is already planned for certain species, for others there is all to go for.

Further more detailed information on sites, particularly those where there have been few or no recent records of these species, is available from Barry Prater  

Cinnabar Moth Postcard Survey 2009-2011 Results

All the Scottish records of the Cinnabar moth received during the survey period have now been analysed along with previous data supplied by the National Moth Recording Scheme and the results are quite striking. The range of the moth has expanded significantly in recent years and it can now be considered as a breeding species across the whole of southern Scotland as well as in coastal regions further north and west. The map shows the situation. Details should appear in Atropos magazine later in 2013.



 Breeding status of the Cinnabar in Scotland

(green = breeding before 2000, yellow = first breeding records 2000-2008, red = first breeding records 2009-2011)


Cinnabar Moth (Mark Parsons)



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