A Focus On Nature

University Moth Challenge

Elephant hawkmoth

Welcome to the home of the University Moth Challenge (UMC)! The UMC has been created by AFON, to use moths as a way of engaging more young people with wildlife. The aims of the University Moth Challenge are:

  • To encourage more biological recording at University.
  • To encourage more young people to take an active interest in moths.
  • To give young people valuable biological recording and identification skills.
  • To link young people and Universities with the National Moth Recording Scheme, run by Butterfly Conservation.

The UMC is a very simple scheme. University students form teams and moth trap on their campus (or University land). The aim is to record as many species and individual moths (diversity and abundance). The team that records the most in each category wins a prize (detailed below – exact details of how these prizes are awarded and divided up yet to be confirmed). The categories under which prizes can be won are: number of species, number of individual moths, number of nights trapped, number of people involved. The UMC is open to any University in the UK and there are no conditions to entering, just a willing enthusiasm to get stuck in with moth recording!

The UMC launched for its first year in April 2015, running up until April 2016. This covers the first year of the competition. The second year will run from April 2016 to April 2017.

AFON is very grateful to the following organisations for kindly donating the prizes for the first UMC (these are for the April 2015 to April 2016 year only – prizes being sought for second year):

  • A years free membership of Butterfly Conservation for up to 5 people.
  • A copy of the Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain & Ireland by Richard Lewington. Donated by Butterfly Conservation.
  • A day or night of Tony Davis’ time, who is a Moth Conservation Officer for Butterfly Conservation, to either try to see a species of their choice or to provide training in an aspect of identification (e.g. leaf mines, dissection, etc.). The choice is entirely up to the winning team.
  • One copy each of the Conifer Moths Book and the Bird-dropping moth book (which should be out in autumn), see http://www.angleps.com/books.php. Donated by Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies.
  • Micro moth book donated by Martin Harvey, county moth recorder.

We have the following Universities participating in the Challenge in the current (2015-16) year:

  1. Reading
  2. St Andrews
  3. Worcester
  4. Southampton
  5. Cumbria

To take part and register your team you have to contact Simon Phelps (simonphelps310787@yahoo.com), who is coordinating the UMC for AFON. He can also provide you with advice on getting set up and provide further details on how to submit your moth records. He is also able to provide support and links to appropriate experts in moth recording who can provide assistance.