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The Return of the Ranunculus - The Moth That Came Back

by Butterfly Conservation
Date: 21/06/2012

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A previously extinct moth has successfully re-colonised large swathes of the UK thanks to wildlife-friendly brownfield sites.

The Small Ranunculus, an intricately mottled grey, black and gold moth became extinct in Britain prior to World War Two, but started to appear once again in the late 1990s.

These early immigrants from continental Europe established a foothold on brownfield sites such as abandoned quarries and spread along roadside verges.

With little interference, the moth has now re-colonised large areas of South East England and become established in South Wales as well as being sighted as far afield as Lancashire and Northamptonshire.

The Small Ranunculus favours brownfield sites as they typically hold plants that the moth’s larvae feed upon such as the Prickly Lettuce and Great Lettuce.

Brownfield sites such as quarries, disused railway lines, gravel pits and spoil tips are important for the recovery of this species and key habitats for many threatened and common moths and other wildlife.

But in spite of their wildlife value, brownfield habitats are under-recorded and threatened by Government policy.

Moth Night 2012, organised by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation, the annual celebration of moths and moth recording, is focussing on the biodiversity benefits of brownfield sites.

Events across the UK will survey moths found on brownfield sites, reveal important biodiversity hotspots and help map the return of the Small Ranunculus.

Other moths that rely upon brownfield sites include the Six-belted Clearwing which mimics a wasp, rarities such as the Four-spotted, Wormwood and Bright Wave and more common species like the dramatic looking Elephant Hawk-moth and the Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet.

Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager said: “Brownfield sites provide some of the best wildlife habitats in the UK for moths, butterflies and other wildlife and yet are highly threatened by redevelopment and bland landscaping schemes.

“We hope that Moth Night 2012 will raise awareness of the beautiful moths that live in these under-rated habitats and improve our knowledge of the wildlife importance of brownfield sites.”


Atropos editor Mark Tunmore said: “We hope that as many people will get involved in recording moths as possible during Britain’s annual celebration of moths by submitting sightings via the website.

“It doesn’t matter in what environment or part of the country you live - you will have moths in close proximity and you may be stunned by how spectacular some of these are.”


Moth Night 2012 runs from 21-23 June and will include a series of daytime searches and night-time recording across the UK.



NOTES
Moth Night 2012 is organised by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology with the aim of encouraging recording and raising the profiles of moths amongst the public. The annual event was founded by Atropos in 1999. For information about events visit www.mothnight.info



CONTACTS
For interviews and images contact Butterfly Conservation Press Office 01929 406005

Contact Mark Tunmore (Atropos editor) on 01326 290287 or 07979013257

Butterfly Conservation is the largest charity of its type in the world. Our aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. We run conservation programmes for more than 100 threatened species and manage over 30 nature reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org

ATROPOS is the popular UK journal for butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts, catering for amateur and professional interests. www.atropos.info Up to the minute information about latest sightings of migrant insects around the British Isles may be found on the Flight Arrivals pages of this website.

If you have any questions or require more information about this press release, please contact Butterfly Conservation by email.

About Our Press Releases

Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire regularly issue press releases on issues in relation to butterfly and moth conservation in the Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull area alongside occasional press releases covering national stories from Butterfly Conservation's head office.

If you require further information about a specific press release, please contact the specific press release author.

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Notes For Editors
Butterfly Conservation is the largest conservation charity of its type in Europe with over 13,000 members in the UK. Its aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. It runs conservation programmes on over 60 threatened species of butterfly and moth, organises national butterfly recording and monitoring schemes, and manages over 30 nature reserves.

Further information at: www.butterfly-conservation.org