Easy ways to see beautiful moths

Did you know you could have tigers, leopards or elephants roaming your garden? They're all names of types of moths! Try our easy ways to see the moths that live near you.

Shine a light for moths

One of the simplest ways to attract moths is to hang a white sheet over a washing line and shine a bright light underneath it. Be careful that any hot lights do not touch the sheet. 

Once you’ve got your sheet and light in place, wait for the moths to come. Take a look at our ID sheet to help you name the moths you find. But don’t despair if you can’t find it – there are about 2,400 species of moth in the UK!

Visit the Butterfly Conservation or UK Moths websites for more information.

Make a sticky syrup

If you want to attract some to your garden, we've got a top trick. All you need to do is make a moth lure, which is basically some very sticky syrup spread on a tree trunk. Here's how...

You will need:

  • Brown sugar
  • Over-ripe bananas
  • Cola
  • Black treacle
  • A paintbrush
  • A torch and red cellophane to cover it (if you don’t have cellophane you could use a sweet wrapper) 
  1. Break the bananas into pieces, put them in a bowl and squash them with a fork
  2. Add some sugar and a dollop of treacle
  3. Pour on enough cola to dissolve the sugar and make the mixture runny enough to spread with a paintbrush, but not so runny that it will drip
  4. Pour the mixture into a pan and gently heat it up - grown up supervision will be needed for this part! Keep stirring all the time and make sure it doesn't boil over. Once all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is gloopy, take it off the heat
  5. Leave the sugary syrup to cool, stirring it now and again
  6. Just before dusk, head out to the garden and paint the syrup onto a bare tree trunk or a fence post. Be care not to cover any plants or animals living there
  7. Once darkness falls, place the red cellophane over the beam of your torch (you can secure it with an elastic band or sticky tape if you like), and carefully shine it over the syrup on the trees. Moths can't see red light, so if you keep quiet and still, you won't disturb them. 

Know your moth from your butterfly

Moths and butterflies are very similar. There are several main differences. Moths are often dull coloured and tend to fly at night. Butterflies are often brightly coloured and fly during the day.

Moths tend to be hairy and have feathery antennae, whereas butterflies are less hairy and have club or pin-shaped antennae.

When a butterfly lands it tends to rest with its wings closed, whereas moths tend to rest with theirs open.

There are exceptions to all these differences: for instance several species of moth fly during the day and are very colourful!

Like butterflies, moths have four different life stages. During their short lifetime they undergo a complete change, or metamorphosis. They begin life as an egg, hatch into a caterpillar, pupate, often within a silken cocoon, and emerge as adults.

Amazing moths

Elephant hawk moth
Are you up for a Wild Challenge?

If you do these activities, it could count towards a Wild Challenge award! Don't forget to tell us you took part.