Picture taken by Kurt Kulac English: Please report references to kulacgmx.at., via Wikimedia Commons
A new project called Kent’s Magnificent Moths will save and celebrate some of the UK’s most unique and special insects which are found in the county.

The project, launched today by wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will showcase some of the area’s most impressive but threatened moths and make a real difference to conservation in Kent.

Project Officer Emma Pestridge says: “Moths are remarkable creatures with surprising’s complex shapes and colours, who serve an important role in supporting our ecosystems. This project will provide the opportunity for local people to see and help save some of the UK’s rarest and most threatened species, such as the stunning Black-veined moth which occurs in Kent and nowhere else in the UK.

“Most of the eight moth species that are the focus of the project could easily be mistaken for butterflies thanks to their impressive colouring. One example is the bright green Sussex Emerald which is sadly now only found in significant numbers in Dungeness and Deal.

”Every garden, park, orchard and farm in Kent is home to hundreds of moths, but sadly they’re facing worrying declines. In the last 50 years populations of the Britain’s larger moths have declined by 33%. Butterfly Conservation want to help people to see and identify them whilst highlighting the major role moths play in the ecosystem, as pollinators and food for other species like bats and birds. A continuing decline in moths would have disastrous knock-on effects for all these wildlife species.

Emma continues: “The Elephant Hawkmoth is a wonderful example of a common moth which is a likely visitor to gardens across Kent each year but can be quite a surprise to many who spot it for the first time and discover it is a moth not a butterfly. The caterpillar of this moth can grow to 9cm in length and when recoiled reveals two, large ‘eye-like’ markings behind the head, startling predators and giving the impression of a much more sinister, snake-like head. They then transform into large vivid pink and green adults.”

Over the next three years the dedicated team will partner with local schools, farmers, and an array of community groups, including those that support mental health and wellbeing, to improve habitats across the county. This will involve growing and planting foodplants, including Wild Carrot, Hog’s Fennel, and Marsh Mallow to encourage breeding across wider ranges.

The conservation work will be coupled with moth events, from practical habitat work to close encounters of the UK’s rarest species whilst encouraging community celebration of local moths through art and other creative means.

Emma says: “We’d love to encourage people to get involved in the project by letting us know what moths they spot this spring and summer or share with us your own moth creations. Perhaps a drawing, a moth inspired bake, fun costume or your favourite photograph! Please take a picture and share it via social media using #MagnificentMoths.”

Thanks go to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Further information

The 8 species of threatened moth which are the focus of the project are:

Fisher’s Estuarine Moth: https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/fishers-estuarine-moth

Bright Wave: https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/bright-wave

Fiery Clearwing: https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/fiery-clearwing

Straw Belle: https://butterfly-conservation.org/sites/default/files/1.straw_belle-psf.pdf

Sussex Emerald: https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/sussex-emerald

Marsh Mallow Moth: https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/marsh-mallow-moth

Black-veined Moth: https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/black-veined-moth

White Spotted Sable: https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/white-spotted-sable

By Ed

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