Washout summer hits moths
Last modified: 25 June 2012
Unseasonably wet and cold weather is taking its toll on the UK's moths.
As National Insect Week begins, the RSPB and Butterfly Conservation say their monitoring reveals the number of moths and range of moth species has been especially low during April, May and June, with knock-on effects for other wildlife.
In the UK there are around 2,500 species of moth but it's estimated that the range of species being seen regularly in monitoring work over the last quarter has been down by as much as 25 per cent.
'These wet months have meant fewer moths around, and the impact of that will be felt'
Les Hill of Butterfly Conservation manages the data for the National Moth Recording Scheme. He says: 'June is normally a great time of year for moths, they should be thriving right now both in abundance and in the wide variety of species that are around. But, a wet spring and summer seems to have affected them.
'April was almost a complete washout. Where we could expect to be finding a couple of dozen moths of each species every night, we've been lucky to get just one or two individuals of each species, and many moth recorders are reporting the same.'
Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, says: 'We'll be looking with interest to see if long-term trends in moth numbers have been affected. But it's certain that these couple of wet months have meant fewer moths around this summer, and the impact of that will be felt among the rest of the wildlife world.'
Many other creatures - bats, birds, lizards and hedgehogs among others - eat moths or their caterpillars, so low numbers means less available food for a variety of wildlife. It could also affect wild plants and crops, as moths are important pollinators.
Gardens can be made into a more supportive habitat for moths. The RSPB and Butterfly Conservation advise including more native trees and shrubs, with a mixture of flowering herbaceous plants and where possible areas of longer grass. This is good for moths as well as butterflies and a whole variety of other invertebrates.
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