This course on moths and butterflies introduces the identification, life history, behaviour and conservation of these beautiful and fascinating insects.
A 2 day course introducing the identification and natural history of perhaps the most visually appealing of all insect groups. The course introduces identification techniques, key features for discrimination, and gives an understanding of the importance of these species for conservation, ecology and recording. Only live viewing techniques are used: light traps and sugaring for moths and sweep nets for butterflies. We will discuss the benefits of the different trapping methods and the different types of light trap. Working through the moth catch in the morning is complemented by afternoon excursions to look for and identify butterflies on the wing. Local butterfly species include Silver Washed Fritillary, White Admiral and Purple Hairstreak and the larger moths include Poplar, Privet, Pine and Elephant Hawk Moths.
Your course takes place on a 12-hectare estate, surrounded by a rich range of habitats, including the River Severn and semi-ancient woodland, set in the heart of Shropshire with views disappearing into Wales.
PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition. If you would like to book accommodation and meals, including packed lunches, at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected] Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.
Who Should Attend?
Natural history enthusiasts, students, rangers, ecologists, environmental professionals. This intermediate level course is open to anyone with some knowledge of the subject.
Knowledge Level – Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Eco-Skills Framework and Course Level Descriptors
Manchester Metropolitan University students must also select Identifying Dragonflies and Damselflies, and do both 2 day courses to complete the unit Identifying Odonata and Lepidoptera.
What will be covered during this course?
The course will be delivered through a combination of seminars, laboratory identification sessions and practical field work. Moths and butterflies will be caught for examination then released unharmed.
- Different techniques for identifying adults and larvae in the Lepidoptera, examining a range of diagnostic features to separate out the genera, and in many cases tackling identification to species level.
- The importance of Lepidoptera as biological indicators in the context of climate change and land use change.
- The ecology of a number of key Lepioptera.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Identify and justify the identification of a range of common species within the Lepidoptera
- Explain and critically evaluate the importance of field guides and ecology in aiding identification
This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. MMU students complete assessed work after the course. For further details about Manchester Metropolitan University degree programmes please contact:
Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). Email: [email protected]
- See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
- Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
- Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.
For Manchester Metropolitan University students, the Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment. In course tests are optional and less formal for participants who are not MMU students.
MMU students will be required to complete a portfolio comprising of two parts:
Part 1: A test with a range of specimens. Points awarded for correct identification, and critical comparison between specimen and superficially similar/related species.
Part 2: A critical evaluation of the importance of field guides and ecology in the identification of Lepidoptera and Odonata (Equivalent to 1000 words).
Tutor: Peter Boardman
Pete first got into flies after volunteering with Liverpool Museum’s entomological department in the early 1990s, with support from Tom Mawdsley and Richard Underwood. He ‘discovered’ craneflies when county moth recorder for Shropshire and chose them as a dissertation subject for his MSc in the mid 2000s. Following this he committed to the group and immediately worked on a Shropshire distribution atlas (2007) and a second improved version with keys in 2016.
In 2018 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship which enabled him to spend a month at the Smithsonian Institution collections in Washington DC studying the Charles Alexander collection. This enabled him to later name 23 new species to science from Cameroon.
He currently is national cranefly recorder for the Cranefly Recording Scheme supporting John Kramer and Alan Stubbs.
Book with Confidence
We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here
This timetable is subject to change but should give an outline of what to expect.
If you have booked accommodation and meals with the centre your bedroom will be ready from 3.00 pm onwards on the day of arrival and we ask that you vacate by 9.30 am on the morning of departure.
If numbers are sufficient a station pick up will be arranged at 5.30 pm from Shrewsbury Station.
The evening meal is at 6.30 pm (not included in the course fee - please book separately).
The course starts after dinner with a classroom session 7.30 pm - 9.00 pm
The course ends at 4.00 pm on the final day.
Time will be made available for eating packed lunches during the day (not included in the course fee - please book separately).
Evening - there will be an illustrated talk on the biology and life-cycle of moths, followed by "sugaring" trees to attract various moths.
Emptying the MV trap that was run overnight, followed by a morning in the lab learning to identify the families and species of moths that we caught in the trap. In the afternoon, a field trip to look for butterflies and day-flying moths.
Evening - an illustrated talk on the biology and life-cycle of butterflies, followed by more moth-trapping.
Emptying the moth trap again, followed by another session in the lab working through our finds. In the afternoon, a walk in the vicinity of the Centre and surrounding fields to look for more butterflies (including browns and skippers) and day-flying moths.
Accrediting AgencyManchester Metropolitan University
- Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
- Field excursions to apply new knowledge
- Expert tuition for which the FSC is renowned
- Clear objectives and progression
You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing an FSC course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.
PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition and refreshments only. If you would like to book accommodation and meals, including packed lunches, at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected] Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.
Before You Attend
There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can make any necessary adjustments.
What to Bring
- If you have any personal moth and butterfly books, a x10 hand lens, or moth-collecting pots, then do bring them along - although all of these will be available at the Centre for the beginner.
- Close-focusing binoculars, if you have them, are always useful for getting a good view of our more retiring butterflies.
- An SLR camera with suitable attachments for close-up work, if you are interested in the photography of moths and butterflies.
- Any photographs you have taken of moths and butterflies that you would like identified, or simply to share with other course members.
- Pens, pencils and a notebook.
- Warm clothing and a torch for the moth-trapping, plus a lunchbox, comfortable shoes and waterproof clothing (just in case!) for the excursions.
- The field excursions, whilst not strenuous, may involve circular walks of between two and three miles in order to see all of the target species. Participants will therefore need a reasonable degree of physical fitness.
- Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles, Bernard Skinner (3rd Edition, 2009, Apollo Books, ISBN 978-8788757-90-3) - an excellent guide to the identification of the larger moths, but rather expensive. (Copies will be on hand at the Centre during the weekend.)
- Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, Paul Waring and Martin Townsend (either the 2009 edition - British Wildlife Publications, ISBN 978-0953139-98-9 or the latest 2017 edition – Bloomsbury Publishing ISBN 978-1472930-31-6).
- Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland, Richard Lewington (2nd Edition, 2015, Bloomsbury Publishing ISBN 978-1910389-04-1)
- Barnard, P.C. (2011) The Royal Entomological Society Book of British Insects. Wiley-Blackwell
- Chinery, M. (2005) Collins Complete British Insects. Harper Collins
- Sterling, P., Parson, M. and Lewington, R. (2012) Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing