moths are great! (Julie Stoneman)



In Britain, moth recording is generally organised in accordance with the system of Vice-counties. This system is a division of Britain and Ireland into geographical units, based upon traditional counties, that was devised by the botanist H.C. Watson in the mid-nineteenth century.

Herald (Robert Thompson)Large traditional counties were split into several Vice-counties to produce units of approximately equal size across the country. Thus large counties such as Devon and Lincolnshire each comprise two Vice-counties, whereas smaller counties such as Bedfordshire and Monmouthshire are each single Vice-counties. Yorkshire contains five Vice-counties and the modern county of Highland fully encompasses six Vice-counties and parts of another three.

Vice-counties are still used by moth recorders (as well as people recording other wildlife such as plants) because they provide historical stability. The borders of Vice-counties do not change, whereas those of political counties have changed dramatically and continue to do so. County Moth Recorders typically work to Vice-county boundaries.

How do you find out which Vice-county you are recording in?

  • The Botanical Society of the British Isles has an online tool that will assign a grid reference to a Vice-county, click here.
  • The Biological Records Centre website has a useful feature that will produce a list of Ordnance Survey grid squares in each Vice-county, click here.
  • In addition, maps of the Vice-counties can be found on the internet.