Extinct moth comeback in Britain


Small ranunculus, photo by John Reeves

From Wildlife Extra:

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.

Other moths that rely upon brownfield sites include the Six-belted Clearwing which mimics a wasp, rarities such as the Four-spotted, Wormwood and Bright Wave and more common species like the dramatic looking Elephant Hawk-moth and the Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet.

Moth night 2012

Moth Night 2012 runs from 21-23 June and will include a series of daytime searches and night-time recording across the UK.

Moth Night 2012, organised by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation, the annual celebration of moths and moth recording, is focussing on the biodiversity benefits of brownfield sites. Events across the UK will survey moths found on brownfield sites, reveal important biodiversity hotspots and help map the return of the Small Ranunculus.

Morec details are here.

Rare small ranunculus moth spotted in Nottinghamshire: here.

Britain: Washout summer hits moths: here.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Moths are just as worthy of our wonder as butterflies: here.

October 2012. During September 2012 ecologists striving to secure the future of the nationally endangered Barberry Carpet moth, established a new population of this species near Ashton Keynes in the Cotswold Water Park: here.

August 2013. Nottingham Wildlife Trust have a once in a lifetime opportunity to extend the Skylarks Nature Reserve, at Holme Pierrepont and they are asking you to donate to help buy the land. If Nottingham Wildlife Trust manage to raise the cash it will become Rushcliffe’s biggest nature reserve: here.

3 thoughts on “Extinct moth comeback in Britain

  1. Pingback: Birds of British brownfields | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Helping British butterflies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: British moths, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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