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An Illuminating night at Wicken Fen

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

You could be forgiven for thinking the Blackpool illuminations had come to Wicken Fen on 30th April but It was in fact Fourteen light traps we had out. We wanted to maximise our chances of catching a reasonable amount of moths as mothing recently had been pretty slow surely Wicken would not disappoint?? Read on to find out:

Present on the night were myself, Ben Sale, Steve Green, Mark Ward, Lois Clarke, Seb Buckton and Ian Leach (on his moffy travels from Scotland) We met by the visitor centre at around 7.30 and immediately questions were being asked as to whether we would actually catch many moths? We took a walk and decided where we would put the traps and how many we would have out. Ian decided to put all 7 of his out, Seb had 2, Ben had 2, myself, Steve Green and Mark had 1 each making 14 traps. None of us had ever trapped here at this time of year before and in the few years I had been trapping here 14 is double the number of traps we have had out previously. Check the map below for roughly the locations of the traps. There were a mixture of MV and Actinic.

Once we had set up it was just a bit of a waiting game until it got dark and the Moths started to appear.

The first moth to my trap and several others was a small micro called Elachista rufocinerea but the first moth record of the visit didn't actually involve a light trap and was seen earlier in the day. Ian bought along an Emperor Pheromone lure which was successful and attracted 2 males, 1 is pictured below:

Below is just a small selection of moths from the night:

photos from top left to right: Scrobipalpa acuminatella (possible, retained for dissection), Elachista maculicerusella, Elachista apicipunctella, Ancylis apicella, Parornix angelicella (possible, retained for dissection)

Micros above courtesy of Ben Sale.

Lesser Swallow Prominent, Pale Prominent, Angle Shades, Nut Tree Tussock, Chinese Character and Streamer.

Photos above courtesy of Lois Clarke

There were just a couple of non-moffy species that were found near the lights, A common Groundhopper and a male Glowworm. Photos below:

One of the best moths of the night was a micro called Ancylis palludana, a scarce species occurring in a few wetland localities such as Wicken Fen. It was caught in Seb and Ian's traps.

Photo above courtesy of Seb Bucton:

The weather was pretty kind to us on the night considering what the forecast had been. The rain held off long enough to get around 4hrs trapping in and only started as we were packing up around 00.15. Myself, Ian and Kate were staying overnight so they left some of their traps out and collected them in the morning. Several coffees during the next few hours kept us awake for an event starting at 9am talking to members of the public and showing them some of the moths we caught. It was well attended and it was especially good to see kids taking an interest.

A few more photos below from the mornings Moffy event:

Photos above from the top, Chocolate Tip, Puss Moth, Pinion Spotted Pug and Puss Moth with an Emperor.

In total we caught and identified 68 species which was much better than I thought it would be, Wicken certainly did not disappoint.

Below is a complete list of what moths we recorded:



Angle Shades Agonopterix alstomeriana

Brimstone Agonopterix yeatiana

Brindled Beauty Ancylis apicella

Brindled Pug Ancylis paludana

Chinese Character Agonopterix arenella

Chocolate-tip Agonopterix heracliana

Clouded Border Agonopterix ocellana

Clouded Drab Cochylis atricapitana

Common Carpet Dyseriocrania subpurpurella

Common Pug Elachista apicipunctella

Common Quaker Elachista maculicerusella

Common Wave Elachista rufocinerea

Dark Barred Twin Spot Carpet Emmelina monodactyla

Double Striped Pug Endrosis sarcitrella

Early Tooth-striped Mompha epilobiella

Emperor Moth Phyllonorycter quercifoliella

Flame Shoulder Platyedra subcinerea

Flame Wainscot Pseudoswammerdamia combinella

Garden Carpet Semiscopis steinkelleriana

Hebrew Character Parornix sp retained for disection prob anglicella

Iron Prominent Scrobipalpa sp retained for disection prob acuminatella

Least Black Arches

Lesser Swallow Prominent

Muslin Moth

Nut Tree Tussock

Oak Tree Pug

Pale Prominent

Pale Tussock

Pebble Prominent

Pinion Spotted Pug

Powdered Quaker

Purple Thorn

Puss Moth

Red Chestnut

Red-green Carpet

Red Twin Soot Carpet

Reed Dagger

Sallow Kitten

Shoulder Stripe

Shuttle Shaped Dart


Swallow Prominent

Twenty Plumed Moth


Water Carpet

Waved Umber

White Ermine

Watch out for another moffy blog coming soon on our next visit to Wicken at the end of May.

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