Saturday, 23 June 2012

Moth returns to UK in time for moth night

Return of the Ranunculus - The moth that came back
June 2012. A moth, previously extinct in the UK, has successfully re-colonised large swathes of the country thanks to wildlife-friendly brownfield sites.
Small Ranunculus - Colonising brownfield sites
The Small Ranunculus, an intricately mottled grey, black and gold moth became extinct in Britain prior to World War Two, but started to appear once again in the late 1990s.These early immigrants from continental Europe established a foothold on brownfield sites such as abandoned quarries and spread along roadside verges.
With little interference, the moth has now re-colonised large areas of South East England and become established in South Wales as well as being sighted as far afield as Lancashire and Northamptonshire.
Brownfield suitability and vulnerability
The Small Ranunculus favours brownfield sites as they typically hold plants that the moth's larvae feed upon such as the Prickly Lettuce and Great Lettuce. Brownfield sites such as quarries, disused railway lines, gravel pits and spoil tips are important for the recovery of this species and key habitats for many threatened and common moths and other wildlife. But in spite of their wildlife value, brownfield habitats are under-recorded and threatened by Government policy.

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