Dorset Moth Recording Scheme

Guidelines for submitting records

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Sending your records in
The best way to submit records is through the Living Record link website. You can either add records singly or do a bulk spreadsheet upload. Alternatively, spreasheet records can be sent to the Verification Team via email at . Once verified, your data will be forwarded to the Dorset Environmental Records Centre link and the National Moth Recording Scheme link. For recorders using online recording there is no need to forward data to the County Moth Recorder at the end of the year.

A plea to moth recorders visiting Dorset
Dorset is very popular with visiting moth recorders, whether here on holiday or just an overnighter at an immigrant hotspot like Durlston or Portland. While we are delighted that so many moth recorders visit us, only a few moth recorders are kind enough to forward their records to us. Every record is valuable and adds to our knowledge of the moths of Dorset, so please do let us know what you have recorded during your visit by forwarding your records… Many thanks!

Record attributes
The minimum requirement for a good moth record is as follows:

  • Species name (from Agassiz, Beaven & Heckford [2013], preferred, or Bradley [2000])
  • Location name
  • Ordnance Survey 6-fig grid reference or better, including 100km square reference, no spaces
  • Name of recorder and determiner (if different to the recorder)
  • Date (if overnight light trap, the date the trap set rather than the date checked)
  • Number seen and life stage
  • Any other useful information not contained in the above

Online Recording
For recorders wishing to use online recording on the Internet, we recommend Living Record link. An alternative is iRecord link. Living Record is endorsed by the Dorset Environmental Records Centre link. iRecord is supported by the National Biodiversity Network link.

Recording spreadsheets are available to download from our Facebook page.  If using MapMate® link as a recording database then we recommend that you email an Excel download (spreadsheet) to the above-noted address or upload it onto Living Record direct.

For any moth records of interest including photographs, articles, details of events for the website, please email the verification team at or Terry Box at .

Difficult, scare or rare species
Many species in the county are common and easy to identify from popular field guides, but just as many can be difficult to identify and in such cases either dissection or comparison with a series of mounted specimens is then necessary to aid identification. Moths, unlike birds and plants, can exhibit such extremes of variation that two specimens of the same species can look like different species. This range of variation cannot possibly be covered fully in the popular field guides. It is also quite common for recorders to record scarce or rare species where a similar common species is more obvious and more likely.

Refer frequently to the status of moths in Dorset within this website. All districts of Dorset are given the same consideration with respect to status list. If you believe you may have a difficult, scare or rare species, here are some pointers to help you:

  • Check your moth with a photograph on the UKMoths link website; other good moth identification websites are available or just ‘Google’ the species name and view the images. However, whilst photographs can be useful, they can't always demonstrate the distinguishing features needed to confirm identification.
  • As well as comparing your moth to a photograph, have you checked the description text in your field guide?
  • Is the species within the current known geographical and flight period within the county? Check the Species Accounts pages within this website.
  • Is the species within the known national range? Have you eliminated the possibility of your moth being a commoner species? Is the habitat where you recorded the species in keeping with its known habitat preferences?  Is the food plant of the species found in the locality? It is not impossible for a species to be found in an area where its food plant doesn’t exist but it is something to take into account.
  • Get an acknowledged expert or experts to have a look at the specimen if at all possible.

Please only record to a species if you are certain of your determination. Please don’t try to make a species fit an illustration or a photograph; if you are not certain and don't want to take a voucher specimen then let it go and don’t record it or record it as an aggregate, a wrong identification is worse than no record at all.

Many moths have distinctive larvae and some of the species that are difficult to distinguish as adults can be readily identified as larvae. Records of larvae are more than welcome but remember to make note of the food plant.

So, County Moth Recorders may on occasion query records received.  Please do not be offended by this, it is not intended to catch you out!  County Moth Recorders want to help you ensure your data are accurate as possible and improve your own knowledge of moths. It is very important that records on the county database are accurate and we are anxious to avoid unverified records of certain difficult, scarce and rare species being entered unnecessarily where there is any doubt.

Images for verification
If you are not happy with retain voucher specimens, although not ideal, it may be possible to determine a moth in a photograph. Please help by supplying a good quality image, preferably several images from different angles (including hindwings if possible), which demonstrates the salient diagnostic features of the moth to be identified. Please give an indication of size on the image, ideally a rule edge in mm or coin showing denomination ('heads' not 'tails'; 1p/2p and 5p/10p look the same as 'tails'). Please also try to reduce the file size of the image before emailing it for those with very slow broadband speeds; a maximum resolution of 720 pixels, height or width, is recommended. Recorders should be aware that some species easily identified in-the-hand may be impossible to determine in a photograph and as such expectations of a determination should be decreased.

New County Records
Any claim for a new Dorset county record should be supported by a voucher specimen that has been determined independently by an acknowledged expert or experts. Images are not generally accepted as evidence for new county records; however, if an image is the only option and the specimen has been seen and corroborated by an acknowledged expert or experts, this may be considered.

Last updated 27 July 2020