Thursday, 21 June 2018

One new species of 'micro-moth' found in Britain every year

Experts say almost 30 species of pyralid moths have flown in or been transported via the horticultural trade

Thu 14 Jun 2018 06.00 BST

They are often tiny, frequently brown and always challenging to identify but an average of one new species of pyralid moth each year is turning up in Britain, according to experts.

Almost 30 new species of this large family of “micro-moths” have been recorded over the last 30 years – either flying in themselves or being transported via the horticultural trade.

While the abundance of moths is in decline, more than 125 new species of moth have been spotted in Britain this century alone, with 27 species establishing themselves as breeding species.

People are being urged to spot and help document these new arrivals as part of this year’s Moth Night, an annual three-night event to record and celebrate moths, organised by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and wildlife publisher Atropos.

“Just because something is called a micro-moth, don’t assume it’s tiny and brown and dull and impossible to identify because some of these aren’t,” said Richard Fox of Butterfly Conservation. “Moths in general are a fantastic, interesting group of wildlife that’s still relatively diverse – there are hundreds of species in your back garden. Anyone who is interested in wildlife will find that exciting and inspiring.”

Newly arrived micro-moths include Musotima nitidalis, originally from Australia and New Zealand, which reached Britain in 2009 via the horticultural trade. The moth is now found in several locations in southern England, where its caterpillars feed on ferns such as bracken.

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