Moth trapping and butterfly spotting

I was sad to read a description of moth trapping in Country diary (20 July). The beautiful moths they trapped overnight were a wonder of life – in the fourth phase of metamorphosis. Luring them into a light trap must cause terror and damage their fragile wings and bodies. Most adult moths only live for days or weeks, so trapping them overnight is akin to incarcerating a human for years. That night they might have been sipping nectar and pollinating plants or providing lunch for a bat. They might have been seeking a lover or the right plant to lay eggs on so that their offspring can eat and be safe – both are harder now that their numbers have declined and their habitats have been lost. (And in case anyone got the wrong impression from the article, they do not sting.) Moths have enough to contend with from humans – intensive agriculture, chemicals that kill insects or plants, construction, etc. So a plea – don’t trap moths. Love them for their mystery and leave them alone.
Suzanna van Moyland
Bruton, Somerset

Painted lady summers (Spotters at the ready to record painted lady butterfly influx, 19 July), in which these butterflies migrate to our shores in exceptional numbers, are predicted more often than they occur. I have seen no evidence that this is an unusual year and, in any case, it is rather late to expect one. In the last one I remember (2008 or 2009), painted ladies could be seen in moderate numbers, migrating north over the playing field during the village fete, which is held on the spring bank holiday Monday every year.

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I also saw them in very large numbers in Menorca in April in the 1980s, migrating out to sea from the north coast of the island. This would correspond reasonably well with a May arrival here. There has been no such phenomenon this year, though I have, as usual, seen a small number. A visit to the Sussex coast on Wednesday morning, in perfect conditions, revealed no painted ladies at all.
Martin Jeffree
Uckfield, East Sussex

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