Our first Moth Night at Cheney

On Saturday, the Rumble Museum held its first ever Moth Night at Cheney School!

15 Year Seven and Eight students were very privileged to meet moth expert and illustrator Richard Lewington. Richard first of all set the students the task of painting some of the pine trees with a thick treacle-and-rum mixture. This mixture can attract moths to the trees. He set up a few moth traps of different types, and explained to the group how these worked.

He then showed some of the many moth illustrated guides he has made, and the students were then able to use these to identify some of the many moths which Richard had brought from catching in his garden the night before. Everyone was amazed by just how many different sorts of moths visited an ordinary Oxfordshire garden. There were a few elephant hawk moths, which are a stunning pink and green colour. There was a cinnabar moth, with a vibrant red splashed across its dark wings. There was a brimstone moth, named, just like its more well-known butterfly counterpart, after its yellow wings.

There were a couple of privet hawk moths, which were very big, and a buff tip, which looked exactly like a willow twig. There was a poplar hawk moth, which very interesting shaped week, and a Chinese character moth, named after a distinctive pattern on its wings.

There was a short break for hot chocolate and cakes, and then we had a look at what the traps had caught. Unfortunately, since the night was quite clear, and it was still quite early, only a few adventurous woodlice had ventured in, so we went to walk along the field beyond the assembly hall. In the darkness, we stood in the middle of the field, while a few bats flitted around us!

It was a fascinating journey through some of the many types of local moths, and opened everyone's eyes to the massive diversity of the species. We are very grateful to Richard for all his time and for such an informative and enjoyable evening.