Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moth movements are 'indicators' of changing climate

Belfast Telegraph: Moth species are spreading northwards as a result of the changing climate, conservationists who have gathered millions of records of the insects said today. Moths previously found only in more southerly parts of the UK have moved their range miles north, including to Scotland and Northern Ireland, while new species have been arriving in Britain.

Some of the biggest movers include the orange footman moth, which has spread almost 150 miles north in three decades to reach North Yorkshire, and the Blair's shoulder-knot which has moved 226 miles from the Midlands and Suffolk to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

The lime hawk-moth was once only seen as far north as the Humber and now is found in County Durham, while the pine hawk-moth has made it more than 100 miles from Norfolk and southern England to York.

And since the turn of the century, some 28 new species have been seen in the UK for the first time, including the beautiful marbled moth, Patton's tiger and the Minsmere crimson underwing.

The changing face of Britain's moth populations is being revealed through the National Moth Recording Scheme which began in 2007 and has collected millions of records of moth sightings stretching back to 1769 up to the present day. The scheme by Butterfly Conservation passed the five million mark when it received a record of a spectacle moth from July 5, 1998 at Yarner Wood, Devon. The records currently go back as far as the sighting of a death's-head hawk-moth in October 1769 at Felton, Northumberland....

Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae), shot by Christa Holzinger (Flieder66), Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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