Due to Covid-19 we have had to cancel this course, we hope you will find an event later in the year that you can attend.

A weekend introducing the identification and natural history of perhaps the most visually appealing of all insect groups. 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.


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. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]  Phone: 01743 355137

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

The course is also suitable for non-credit students and for those enrolling on the new certificate course with FSC. For further details on this course please contact FSC Head Office at [email protected]

Tutor: Sheila Wright

Sheila Wright is a County wildlife recorder for Nottinghamshire with a long-standing interest in moths and butterflies.

With the generous support of the Suffolk Biodiversity and Information Service, along with the Suffolk Naturalists Society, we are able to provide bursary funding for this course for those students who meet the criteria. For more information please go to Bursaries for Natural History Courses.


Bring a friend!

If you are attending a course at Flatford Mill at the sole occupancy price, we are offering a special rate for a friend or partner not enrolled on the course to also stay at £50 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast.

Please contact FSC Flatford Mill on 01206 297110 or enquir[email protected] to book this offer.

Example Timetable


Evening - there will be an illustrated talk on the biology and life-cycle of moths, followed by "sugaring" some of the riverside trees to attract various moths.


Emptying the MV trap that was run overnight on Valley Farm lawn, 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 trip to the delightful Stour Wood RSPB Reserve to look for butterflies (including White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak and Silver-washed Fritillary) 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 Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

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.

Recommended Reading

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)