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]

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

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Tutor: Douglas Boyes

Douglas began recording moths aged 12 and became the youngest ever County Butterfly Recorder aged 15. Since starting teaching moth and butterflies courses in 2014, Douglas has built a reputation as a highly accomplished lepidopterist, being labelled a 'moth recorder extraordinaire' by Butterfly Conservation's Richard Fox. He has provided training and public engagement events for clients including the Field Studies Council, Oxford University, and the World Wildlife Fund. Douglas is currently employed to survey the moths of Wytham Woods (Oxford University's famous ancient woodland). Meanwhile, he is completing his PhD at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (Wallingford), investigating the impacts of light pollution on moths.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Flatford Mill, please email [email protected]

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 course attendees on this course who meet the criteria. For more information please go to Bursaries for Natural History Courses.

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
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Lunch

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

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)