Record your sightings of wildlife and birds on this board - even better if you managed to capture a photo.
Warning Please avoid giving out the locations of nest sites for rare birds.

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?
User avatar
Posts: 1610
Munros:110   Corbetts:52
Sub 2000:43   Hewitts:12
Joined: Dec 11, 2011

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.

User avatar
Posts: 565
Munros:44   Corbetts:13
Grahams:3   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:18   
Joined: Feb 12, 2015

Re: butterflies or moths?

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

Nothing a rolled-up newspaper can't deal with.
User avatar
Posts: 6476
Joined: Feb 5, 2009

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

User avatar
Mountain Walker
Posts: 3055
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:568   Hewitts:125
Joined: Nov 15, 2010
Location: Fife

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
User avatar
Posts: 39
Munros:105   Corbetts:65
Grahams:52   Donalds:18
Sub 2000:28   
Joined: Jul 11, 2012

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 .
Posts: 153
Munros:13   Corbetts:5
Grahams:4   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:11
Joined: Sep 12, 2011
Location: Forfar

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............
User avatar
Mountain Walker
Posts: 128
Munros:282   Corbetts:33
Grahams:10   Donalds:18
Sub 2000:11   Hewitts:71
Joined: Feb 24, 2011
Location: Hitchin, Hertfordshire

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.

Health warning - if you're like me you'll get hooked.
Roger n Sue Fellows
Posts: 17
Munros:237   Corbetts:12
Joined: Oct 8, 2017

Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free.

Can you help support the site and community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?

Return to Wildlife sightings

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests