Mighty Moths – Why we should welcome the ugly duckling
It seems moths have a much undeserved bad reputation given that their large, fluffy wings can be a bit intimidating, especially flying directly at you when flicking the light on in a dark room. However, as with all insects, scary or not, they hold huge value in the biodiversity of your garden.
As with many of Britain’s wildlife species, moths have suffered a decline in recent years with numbers falling by 40% in the last 40 years in southern Britain. However, it’s not all bad news as along with the decline, there has also been an increase in new moth species that have arrived in Britain; since 2000 there has been over 100 new species spotted for the first time.
The decrease in population numbers is largely linked to environmental impacts caused by humans. Although not as popular as their prettier counterpart, the butterfly, moths play an equally as important part in the biodiversity of your garden, which is why it’s important to choose hedges and shrubs that provide food and habitats for moths. Native hedges are the best way to create a functional habitat as the variety of hedging species will cater to many different moths. Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Privet are particularly useful species to attract moths as many caterpillars feed on the foliage and the dense branches provide shelter from predators.
By attracting more moths to your garden, it’s likely that you will also see a rise in the number of other wildlife species that come to visit. Hedging plants such as Hawthorn and Blackthorn that are vital to moths are also bird friendly and are valuable to hedgehogs and other insects. And, moths play an important part in the food chain, being a staple part in the diet of many British bird species.
Many people don’t realise that there are over 2400 recorded species of moths in Britain and that the average garden can be visited by at least 30 of these a night! So, why not spend some time in the garden one night, and you may be surprised by the colourful, attractive wings you spot fluttering around.
Common species to look out for:
Large Yellow Underwing – this common moth has a large, chunky body and is very fast in flight.
Six-spot Burnet – a day-flying moth, this brightly spotted moth is most commonly sighted in midsummer.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth – as the name suggests, this moth is often mistaken for a hummingbird as it also hovers next to flowers, feeding on the nectar.
Gardening for wildlife will not only help with the conservation of moths but, as they play such an important role in the food chain, you will also be supporting many other species that need our help.
For more information on turning your garden into a wildlife haven, take a look at our wildlife blogs. And, to be in with the chance of winning a hedging bundle that’s perfect to attract hedgehogs to your garden, enter our #HedgesForHogs competition on Facebook.