Saturday, 18 September 2010

1,000 moth species living in England’s protected woodlands

Saturday, 18th September 2010
Emily Beament, PA

More than 1,000 species of moth were found living in the treetops of England’s protected woodlands, a two-year survey revealed yesterday.

Nearly 100 of the country’s rarest moths were identified among 22,500 separate records of the insects in the study of the canopies of woodland sites of special scientific interest.

The survey took samples from 45 of the protected sites, and a total of 1,083 moth species were found, the government’s conservation agency, Natural England, said.

At Roudsea Wood and Mosses SSSI in Cumbria, scientists identified 348 moth species, while 15 of England’s rarest and most threatened moths were found in Langley Wood in Wiltshire.

Tom Tew, chief scientist for Natural England, said: “Moths, by their nature, are elusive, so the findings of this comprehensive study into the diversity and distribution of moths in our woodlands provides an important scientific record. “The findings also demonstrate how important these woodland habitats are for some of our most threatened species of moth, such as the dark crimson underwing and the triangle.

“Moths, like their daytime cousins butterflies, play an important role in England’s biodiversity and the pollination of plants and flowers.

“We have been given a rare glimpse of the habits of these night-time beauties and this data will enhance future habitat protection.”

Mark Parsons, of Butterfly Con­servation, said: “Woodlands, and their associated habitats, are known to support a wide range of species and appropriate management is key to the continued survival of many of these moths and other insects.

“Long-term monitoring of moths show large-scale losses since the late 1960s so it is great to reveal just how important these sites are.”

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