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Quick-link to Hampshire identification guidelines

Moth Recording

In most years over 100,000 moth records are received for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and all are held on the Butterfly Conservation Branch database. The number of moth recorders in the county means that it is far too much for an individual or even a small team of recorders to enter the records manually so it is only by individuals entering their own records that the system can be maintained. Having said that, if records are submitted online via Living Record or as an excel spreadsheet I can guarantee that all be entered onto Mapmate. Please note that paper submissions will only be accepted for low volumes - I do not have the resources to type up significant quantities of records - and ad hoc emails and online postings cannot be guaranteed to find their way into the database. The only guaranteed methods of getting records to me are as below.

The preferred method of submission is via Mapmate. Mapmate is a software programme developed especially for natural history recording. It is cheap and easy to use and more details can be found on the Mapmate website at Current purchase cost is £25, with a £12 annual licence fee to cover continual updates to features and taxonomic data.

If submitting via Excel, it is highly recommended you use the template available here to enter your records. On this spreadsheet you simply need enter the common or scientific name of the moth into the first white column (C) and if it is spelt correctly, the yellow columns will be filled in for you. The other columns should be filled in as required - site, date, method etc. See the NOTES tabs or contact me for guidance.

If not using this template, please ensure that the following information is submitted for each record - please put one record on each line with these items along the top row:

  • Species name - English and/or scientific name. For macros please be sure to put at least the English name, and for micros please be sure to put at least the scientific name. It is useful but not essential to have Bradley and Fletcher numbers also. A full Hants/IoW list with B&F numbers can be provided on request to Mike Wall.
  • Quantity - precise number please, however, if numbers weren't precisely counted, an estimate is preferred over a simple indication of presence. Where the recorder has no idea of quantity, then 0 can be used to indicate presence.
  • Site name
  • Grid reference - six-figure, or at least four-figure. If you are not sure how to do this please click here for more information.
  • Recorder's name
  • Determiner's name - if different from the recorder i.e. who identified it. This is important if there are any queries over the identification. It is also good etiquette to credit the actual identifier rather than claim the 'glory' for oneself!
  • Date - in dd/mm/yyyy format
  • Method - eg daytime observation or MV Light Trap. Please differentiate between different types of trap if possible, e.g. Robinson, Skinner, type of bulb etc.

Please note that it is extremely time-consuming to convert excel spreadsheets submitted in tabular form with the dates across the top and species name down the left, into a usable format so please do not submit them like this. However, If there is no alternative to submitting them in this format, for example where this is the only method used for historical records, then they should be submitted to Mike Wall (email address below) to convert and upload. The spreadsheet must relate to (a) one site only - which is clearly defined at the top of the spreadsheet with grid reference, (b) the dates should be in the format dd/mm/yyyy, (c) the species should be clearly identified, preferably including B&F number, down the left side and (d) the area containing quantities should contain just that - numbers and no other characters.

Note also that it is convention when light trapping to use the (evening) date of putting out the trap and not the morning date when it is opened and checked.

If you are new to Mapmate then please read the start-up instructions (in rtf format - will be readable in any word processing application) here. If you need further help getting set up please do not hesitate to ask me (contact details below).

When submitting records or entering your records onto Mapmate please always err on the side of caution in your identifications. Beginners should note that there are several difficult species groups that can only safely be determined by dissection of the genitalia.

Living Record: An alternative method of submission is via Living Record which is an on-line recording system that you can use for all your natural history sightings, not just lepidoptera. It has the great advantage to you that you can view and manage all the records that you have entered. As County Recorder I can then view and verify or query/comment on any records on-line and you are able to attach any pictures in support of your id or add additional comments.


There many other groups and pairings where great care is needed and careful consultation of the literature until you are familiar with all the salient identification features, and remember that there can be great variation within a species and between the sexes of a species. Websites can also be a good source of photographs and information but remember that these come with a health warning as there can be more errors than within books. Reference to more than a single source is strongly advised.

Click this link for identification guidelines to the more difficult species and species groups.

In addition to those highlighted under the above link, many of the micros, rarer migrants, rarer residents or pugs will need verification by someone familiar with the species either by producing the specimen or a good quality photograph. The use of digital cameras has transformed the verification process but it should be borne in mind that species cannot always be identified with certainty from a photograph and it is always best to err on the side of safety in your recording. It is always best to retain any moth for which the identification is uncertain - even if a photograph has been taken - until it has been identified with certainty.

You are recommended to use the Hantsmoths Facebook page for local moth news and to keep in touch with other moth-ers in your area.

Mike Wall
County Moth Recorder
Butterfly Conservation

Contact Details

County moth recorder: identification queries, central co-ordinator of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight hub and webmaster of

Mike Wall
Mapmate CUK: 2h3
Email: mike(AT)hantsmoths(DOT)