Some of Britain’s most spectacular flyers are also our most obscure: moths. Over 2,500 species of moth live in the UK, and over 30 of them have been seen at Ynys-hir over the past few days.
On Sunday we ran a moth trap event for visitors, and set one up again today for a group of 6th formers visiting the reserve. Perhaps the most common night-time visitor was the Mottled Beauty, which comes in all sorts of patterns and shades of grey, brown, cream and black. Some of the more exciting looking finds included the Garden Tiger (whose caterpillars are known as ‘woolly bears’), the Buff-tip (which looks like a bit of broken Birch twig when resting), and the Coxcomb Prominent, which pretends to be dead if you hold it. We also caught several shimmery Light Emeralds, and a sleepy Lobster Moth that was supremely indifferent to being disturbed.
Garden Tiger Adult
Garden Tiger Larva
We also caught several Peppered moths, a beautiful speckled moth well-known in biology circles as an interesting example of natural selection. During the Industrial Revolution, coal pollution blanketed the birch trees and killed the lichens on which the Peppered moth lives. This meant that the whiter moths died, but the few all-black moths were well camouflaged against the coal dust, and became dominant within the species. Thankfully today air quality has improved, so Peppered moths are back to their original mottled white-and-black.
Like most of the UK’s wildlife, moths are still under threat today from things like habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. However, it’s easy to help give moths a home by changing the way you garden. And if you’re keen, try setting out your own moth trap to see why hidden beauties live near you!
What did we find?