Green Britain: Slump in number of large moths raises fears for other wildlife

Top 10 Facts About Moths

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Researchers think climate change may be to blame, with the greatest declines seen in the South – at 39 percent compared to 22 in the North. There are some 900 species of larger moths in Britain. When smaller “micromoths” are included, the total is 2,600. The Stout Dart moth has seen the biggest drop in numbers, at 81 percent.

Dr Richard Fox, the associate director of recording and monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, which helped with the research, said: “This decline is worrying because moths play a vital role in our ecosystems.

“They are pollinators of many plants, with some wildflowers, such as orchids, relying on visiting moths for reproduction.

“They also provide essential food for thousands of animal species, including bats and many familiar birds. Because moths are dwindling, we can be pretty sure that other wildlife are also in decline and that our wider environment is deteriorating.”

The report, also written by Rothamsted Research and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, is based on tens of millions of records gathered by experts and volunteers. The declines are blamed on human activity, particularly habitat destruction and chemical and light pollution.

Climate change is a “huge factor” especially for moths adapted to cooler climates.

These include the Pale Shining Brown, which has not been seen since 2017, raising fears that it has become extinct here.

 The pesticide neonicotinoid, seen as harmful to bees, will not be used in the UK this year to tackle a virus found in beet. The British Beet Research Organisation said the cold winter had cut the expected impact.

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