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butterflies or moths?

butterflies or moths?


Postby litljortindan » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:53 pm



Can anyone tell me what these are in the last twenty seconds of the above? My wife thought bath-whites but doubted there'd be so many of them and so far north so moths?
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Re: butterflies or moths?

Postby KatTai » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:15 pm

Not likely to be bath whites up in Orkney, they are rare in the UK in general. I was in Orkney in July and there were loads of them everywhere in that type of habitat. I think I can see little hints of colour but can't quite tell.

moth.jpg
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Re: butterflies or moths?

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:31 am

Nothing a rolled-up newspaper can't deal with.
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Re: butterflies or moths?

Postby Sgurr » Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:18 pm

They look as if they have dark tips which may mean female orange tips. This poses 3 questions (1) Is July in Scotland early enough to be "early summer" (2) Would you only get one sex (3) If not, would your eyes and the camera in that light see the male orange tips as simply darker than the white

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Re: butterflies or moths?

Postby stirlingdavo » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:51 pm

They are almost certainly moths. Orkney has a few species of butterfly but the four species of 'whites' that we get in Scotland aren't really associated with heathery habitats and certainly not in large numbers.

Kat's shout of Magpie moth looks to be a good one - it's hard to tell for definite from the footage but they are the right size, it's the right time of year and the right habitat.

Hope that helps,

Cheers David
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Re: butterflies or moths?

Postby raykilhams » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:53 pm

I think KatTai is probably correct as we saw hundreds of magpie moths in the heather between Keiss and John O'Groats last July .
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Re: butterflies or moths?

Postby LDPWalker » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:55 am

An easy and reliable way to tell a moth from a butterfly is that butterflies always have club tipped antennae, moths never do. You can see the white clubbed tips on the picture of the black and white butterfly in this thread (a large white, probably), but no club tips on the moth (which I agree is an example of The Magpie, to give it its full name). The other crucial identifier is that moths never rest with vertically closed wings, whereas butterflies generally do. These two facts should banish all confusion............
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Re: butterflies or moths?

Postby Roger n Sue Fellows » Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:10 pm

A bit late on this topic, but I'll try my two penn'orth. There are some moths which characteristically rest with wings held together, but not many. Early Thorn would be one example, Lunar Thorn does and looks something similar. Some moths will let you get quite close to take a good photo. Try a first shot from a few metres and then go in closer.

If you find Argent and Sable out on the hills count yourself very lucky. The UKMoths website is a handy source of reference. East Scotland Moths has distribution maps of everything you're likely to find.

Some moths are 'montane' specialists, which YOU may come across particularly in bright sunshine on the highest summits.

Some authorities classify them all as moths - butterflies being specialist day-flying moths. There are many hundreds of larger species in the UK and 1,500 or so mainly smaller ones.

Only a handful of UK species will eat your clothes, they are all only a few millimetres long.

There are plenty of Faceache groups and a Yahoo Scottish Moths group where people will happily try to identify your finds. Try to get a full on shot and give an idea of size and habitat.

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