Wood Tiger moths on Butser Hill

Wood Tiger moths on Butser Hill

At this time of year the butterflies and moths are widespread across the site and the long dry spell has been very beneficial for them. Both are vital to our biodiversity with an important role in pollinating our native flowers and certain commercial crops.  

Generally the moths are harder to spot when compared to their day flying cousins the butterflies. However the Wood Tiger (Parasemia plantaginis) is often seen during daylight hours.  This uncommon species of woodland, downland and acid grassland has been seen in unusually large numbers across Butser Hill.

Wood Tiger caterpillar

Wood Tiger caterpillar

  The caterpillars feed on dandelion, plantain and hawkbit and are also present in good numbers on the hill.

To be able to monitor moth numbers light traps  are used. These are set at night  and are designed to attract and hold large numbers of insects which can then be identified. In early May, a trap set on the edge of the QE forest produced 21 species of moth including the wonderfully named Orange footman, the White ermine and the Silver ground carpet.  At this time of year there will always be May bugs or Cockchafers which are also attracted to the light.

Cockchafer or Maybug

Cockchafer or Maybug

The most unusual moth found was the Cloaked carpet (Euphyia biangulata) which is quite rare and classified as ‘ a nationally notable nb species ‘, this means that is has been recorded in only 31-100 ten kilometre squares in the whole of Great Britain.

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