A pioneering project to save six of Scotland's rarest insects - most of which have their last UK stronghold in the Cairngorms National Park - has launched this week. In this new blog series, project officer Gabrielle Flinn, will be bringing us a new blog each month focussing on one of the six species. This month, it's the enigmatic Kentish glory moth.
This week a groundbreaking project has been launched in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland to help save six of the UK’s rarest species of insect.
The Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms (RIC) project will work to improve the conservation fortunes of some of the park’s rarest species by recruiting local volunteers to help survey for them, as well as offering advice to landowners on how best to manage habitats for their needs.
The six insects that have been chosen for the project are:
Kentish Glory moth
Shining guest ant
Northern silver-stiletto fly
Dark bordered beauty moth
Small scabrous mining bee
These insects have all been identified as 'conservation priorities' and surveys will begin later this month for the first species to emerge in the year, the enigmatic, Kentish glory moth.
In contrast to its name this day flying moth is no longer found in Kent and is instead restricted to the north-east of Scotland, where it flies from late April to mid May in areas of young birch - such as moorland or regenerating woodland.
Males look for females on calm warm days flying fast across favourable habitat using their feathery antennae to monitor for “calling” females. Like many moths the females use pheromones to advertise to passing males that they are looking for a mate and it is these pheromones that can bring in passing males from up to 1km away.
Due to their fast flight and short flight season, surveying for the species has always been difficult but, thanks to a partnership between Butterfly Conservation Scotland and Canterbury University, a new artificially created pheromone that mimics a female Kentish glory has been produced to attract male moths to chosen areas.
An example of a 'dummy female' used to entice male moths.
Early trials seem positive and areas where moths have not been seen for over a decade are beginning to turn up results. It is hoped with further use of this technique we will be able to better understand the distribution of the moth across Scotland and crucially work to provide the young birch habitat they require to ensure that populations do not become isolated.
Each month we’ll be releasing a new blog to cover one of the six species the project will focus on. Next month’s species focus, the Caledonian pinewood specialist, the pine hoverfly.
RIC is a partnership project involving RSPB Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Buglife Scotland, Butterfly Conservation Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). It is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.