TIGER SPOTTED AT WILDACRES!

 

Well, technically it is!  Though albeit of the moth variety!!

During the summer we deployed our Actinic light moth trap to monitor moth species at Wildacres. We were both thrilled and astounded at the results we achieved. The quantities and variety of moths collected was very encouraging. Proving that the habitat restoration work at Wildacres is paying dividends for all sorts of wildlife.

This moth trap attracts and collects the moths at night-time for surveying the following morning. After logging the species collected, they are carefully released unharmed into nearby thick hedgerow cover.

Moth Monitoring Trap

 

Moths congregate on egg carton

 

The variety, colours, and patterns of the of species collected was fascinating to see. In Ireland we have approximately 1400 species of moth, and they can rival even the most colourful of our 35 native butterfly species, in the beauty stakes.

These are just a few of the fascinating moths we recorded and photographed at Wildacres during the summer.

Garden Tiger Moth (Arctia caja) at Wildacres

 

Elephant Hawk Moth – Deilephila elpenor

This stunning Elephant Hawk Moth was an exciting find. The beautiful pink colouration debunks the dowdy reputation moths have, or what about the wing shape on this gorgeous Poplar Hawkmoth.

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

 

Like a lot of our wildlife, we are only beginning to appreciate the key role these fascinating insects play in a functioning healthy ecosystem, both as a food source for other animals and for the pollination service they conduct in our hedgerows, areas of wildflowers and food crops.

 

Brimstone Moth – Opisthograptis luteolata at Wildacres

 

What about this beautiful Brimstone moth, again beautifully coloured!

Even a lot of the less colourful moth species have stunning cryptic patterns or flashes of iridescent silver and gold.

 

Gold Spot Moth – Plusia festucae

 

This beautiful six spot Burnet is a diurnal moth meaning it can be seen flying during daylight hours.

 

Six Spot Burnet Moth – Zygaena fillipendula

 

It has a similarly coloured relative, the Cinnabar Moth whose caterpillars are highly poisonous to would be predators. They derive this poison from their sole larval foodplant, Ragwort, and they advertise the fact with their bright but beautiful orange and black stripes.

 

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars – Tyria jacobaeae on Ragwort

 

This combination of yellow and black colours in nature, is often used to warn off would be predators, to the fact that the insect is poisonous, or has a deadly sting.

Another example of this warning colouration familiar to all, is seen in our wonderful native wasps that use this patterning to great effect to avoid being eaten.

 

German Wasp – Vespula germanica

 

We were thrilled to also find another fascinating moth species the Buff Tip Moth, a true master of camouflage!

 

Buff Tip Moth – Phaleria bucephala

 

A few weeks later, we found some of its caterpillars feeding on some Hazel in a section of new native hedgerow we had planted last year. Another example of the importance of planting native Irish wildflowers, trees, and shrubs to provide food and shelter, and support our wonderful wildlife.

 

Buff Tip Moth Catterpillar Phaleria bucephala

 

How can you to help moths?  

 

Here are some actions to take to help our precious moths:

  • Allow areas of wild plants to flourish, bramble and nettle patches, areas of uncut grassland and wildflower meadows. Native hedgerows and vegetation around wildlife ponds.
  • Link areas of suitable habitat with strips of native hedgerow, wildflower strips, uncut rough grassland. Thus, providing vital wildlife corridors for moths and other animals to use to move safely from suitable habitat to habitat.
  • Try not to use any poisonous chemical herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.
  • Try not to clear away leaf litter in flowerbeds, thus allowing overwintering moth caterpillars somewhere to hibernate and pupate, to emerge the following spring.
  • Plant preferably native or at least a mix of native and pollinator friendly non-native ornamental plants.
  • Highlight to others the importance of moths in a healthy functioning ecosystem.

 

What Next?

 

Check out our website or social platforms, which will feature updates on an ongoing basis on the many features and habitat enhancements we are continuously working on at Wildacres.

Or why not sign up to one of our upcoming Tours or Events to take place at Wildacres themed around Biodiversity education.

See upcoming events here

Wildacres is a Social Enterprise and all proceeds earned go directly towards protecting our Native Wildlife