As darkness falls, a group of mainly middle-aged men set up traps of various shapes and sizes — some sophisticated and expensive-looking, others more Heath Robinson-like — in gardens and fields across the country. These are moth enthusiasts: a largely unknown and, by their very nature, unseen group of hobbyists. They are mostly fanatical birdwatchers too, and from backgrounds that include journalism, the civil service, the Royal Mail and the NHS.
They lay their traps, some of which cost £500 or more, throughout most of the year. In the mornings they count, identify and list their catch in minute detail. The moths are then carefully released, away from prowling blackbirds who turn up when they think there’s a chance of an easy meal.