In a remarkable find, rangers at Ryton Pools Country Park have uncovered the presence of the elusive Dusky Clearwing Moth, a species once believed to be extinct in Britain.
The Dusky Clearwing Moth had not been sighted in Britain since 1924 until, in 2021, a female specimen was documented on a farm within the county, although the precise location was kept confidential at the landowner's request. Subsequently, the species was spotted twice in undisclosed locations in June of this year.
Following the initial sighting in 2021, the growing interest in the Dusky Clearwing prompted enthusiasts around the UK to set traps in the hopes of spotting this rare moth. As a result, several additional records were made in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, and Suffolk. However, subsequent sightings have been scarce and typically have only included single specimens at each site, suggesting that the moth is only present in very low densities.
This significant discovery highlights the importance of ongoing conservation efforts and the crucial role played by Warwickshire's green spaces in preserving biodiversity.
The United Kingdom is home to approximately 2,600 species of moths, with Warwickshire hosting around 1,650 varieties. Remarkably, Ryton Pools alone has recorded an impressive tally of 825 moth species, underscoring the park's significance as a haven for diverse wildlife.
The State of the UK's Larger Moths Report (2021) revealed an alarming 33% decline in moth numbers since the 1970s, triggering widespread ecological consequences for the myriad of species that rely on them for sustenance. For instance, it is estimated that Blue-Tit chicks alone consume a staggering 35 billion moth caterpillars annually. Recent research has further emphasised the importance of moths in pollination, placing them on par with bees in this critical ecological function.
At Ryton Pools, conservation efforts are centred around promoting biodiversity through the creation, maintenance, and enhancement of various habitats. By providing a range of niches in which different species can flourish, the rangers are cultivating an environment that lets ecosystems thrive.
Among the many important species found at Ryton Pools, ten varieties of the nationally scarce Clearwing moths have been recorded, including two Hornet Mimics and the exceedingly rare Sallow Clearwing.
It’s not just the Warwickshire Country Park rangers who can enjoy a close look at these fascinating species. On Friday 4 August, visitors to Ryton Pools can join the rangers for a nocturnal adventure at their popular annual Moth Night. The evening will include a presentation covering tips on moth identification, why and how to record them, and their importance to other biodiversity, before visitors head out to set traps in the park.
The following morning, visitors can return to take part in the Moth Breakfast event. As day breaks, they will check the moth light traps that were set the previous night and learn about the findings. The event is topped off with a full English breakfast from the onsite Courtyard Café.
Children passionate about the natural world won’t want to miss the ‘Moths, Butterflies and Flying Creatures’ events, taking place at Ryton Pools Country Park on Thursday 10 August. Participants will be equipped with bug pots, shaker sheets and sweep nets before heading on an adventure around the park, guided by rangers in their search for the bugs and minibeasts that live in the undergrowth.
More information about these events is available on the Warwickshire Country Parks Eventbrite page.
Councillor Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture at Warwickshire County Council, said: “The rediscovery of the Dusky Clearwing Moth at Ryton Pools Country Park is a testament to the park's commitment to conservation and the rangers’ ongoing efforts to protect endangered species. It serves as a reminder of the invaluable role played by our green spaces in safeguarding biodiversity and preserving the natural heritage of the region.”
For more information about Warwickshire’s Country Parks, visit: www.countryparks.warwickshire.gov.uk