Exciting species discoveries made as locked-down UK public takes up mothing - Butterfly Conservation

A surge in enthusiasm for observing moths during the lockdowns has resulted in some UK counties recording their first sightings of rare species. Scientists are now hoping there will be similar exciting finds during this year’s Moth Night (8 to 10 July), and are calling on the public to submit their daytime and nighttime sightings of species, as well as photographs.

Organised by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), the annual event celebrates these fascinating insects, which are ecologically important but underappreciated and under threat.

Data from the National Moth Recording Scheme suggests there was a rise of around a third in the numbers of people submitting sightings of species in 2020, and a similar increase in total records. Meanwhile, sales of moth traps were up around 50 per cent, says supplier Watkins & Doncaster.

In Cheshire, seven species new to the county were recorded during 2020 including Light Feathered Rustic and Beautiful Marbled. Several species new to Cornwall were spotted there, and it was also a record year in the county for numbers of some scarce migrant species such as Crimson Speckled, Slender Burnished Brass and Scar Bank Gem. In Yorkshire, the number of annual moth records submitted rose by around a quarter in 2020, and were up 700 per cent since 1996. There was also a surge in interest in mothing in the remoter parts of the UK at a time of widespread pandemic restrictions, including Shetland, with more ‘trappers’ and four species new to the islands recorded last year.

With hundreds of distinctive species in flight in July – many during the day – now is the perfect time for the UK’s growing ranks of mothing enthusiasts to look out for species in gardens, parks and local countryside. Moth Night celebrates these insects, which are both important pollinators and sources of food for a variety of animals.

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