05 November 2019

Moth Matters - UMoC 2019

By Philip Orrell

Elephant and Small Elephant Hawkmoth - v2

Members of our BEAST action group recently participated in the University Moth Challenge (UMoC), a joint initiative by the UK’s youth nature network, A Focus on Nature (AFoN) and Butterfly Conservation.

The competition requires students studying in colleges and universities across the UK to form a team and use a range of surveying and trapping techniques to discover more about the range of moth species on their campus and surrounding areas.

Over the summer, the group ran weekly moth light traps at two locations on the College campus. They caught a phenomenal 1,100 moths, numbering 118 different species in total. 

Privet Hawkmoth - w

Students Sylvia Harmer and Christina Mittar, studying FdSc Countryside Management and BSc Animal Conservation & Biodiversity, respectively, managed the project with lecturers Ellie Denniss, Jenny Price and Dr. Pam Worrall, alongside several other staff. All active participants received free Butterfly Conservation membership

Pictured are just some of the species found within the College grounds: the Privet Hawk-moth, Elephant and Small Elephant Hawk-moth, Alder Kitten and Buff Tip.  

Alder Kitten - w

Ellie Denniss said: "The UMoC project offers our students an important insight into the fascinating world of moths, survey methods and the data recording which is so crucial to conserving them. We were delighted to find some of the scarcer moth species during our survey and are proud that we have these on campus."

The State of Britain’s Larger Moths report, published by Butterfly Conservation and Rothamsted Research in 2013, made for bleak reading. It showed that moths had declined in southern Britain by 40% over 40 years, with three native species, the Orange Upperwing, Bordered Gothic and Brighton Wainscot, becoming extinct since 2000. The twentieth century has seen the permanent loss of 62 species.  

Buff Tip - w

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