Elephant Hawk moth (c) Richard Burkmar
A moth not to miss
How do you woo a moth? Experts say that, with the right flowers, a little wine, a night light and something for a sweet tooth, you could be spending the night with some of the magnificent moths of Manchester.
Moths are very diverse, with around 2,500 British species, compared to only 60 butterflies.
And despite their dowdy reputation, many have beautiful markings and fascinating names, including the Elephant Hawk-Moth with its unmistakable purple and green markings. [pictured above]
Phil Rispin is a moth expert in the Entomology Department of Manchester Museum and has observed more than 130 species in his back garden. He says that these mysterious insects can be just as attractive as their more colourful cousin – the butterfly.
"Moths are mainly nocturnal so they're often overlooked. Yet a lot of moths can rival butterflies in their markings and decorations," he said.
However, one previously common species, the Garden Tiger Moth, appears to be a casualty of global warming.
"Unfortunately, it’s declined dramatically in recent years, probably as a result of global warming," explained Mr Rispin. "It hibernates as a caterpillar but may be falling victim to a fungus that thrives in the milder temperatures."
Other spectacular moths to look out for across Greater Manchester and Cheshire include the Large Yellow Underwing; the Brimstone Moth; the Scalloped Oak Moth and the rare yet exotic Hummingbird Hawk-Moth, a migratory species that unusually flies in the daytime.
Attracting a moth
For national Moth Night on 7 June, here are some tips on how to attract these unsung beauties into your garden. And they’re not only drawn to the light; moths have a sweet tooth. And they like a drink too!
One moth you’re unlikely to see is the Manchester Moth (Euclemensia woodiella) which is now seemingly extinct. Found in 1829 on Kersal Moor by amateur collector Robert Cribb, this small yellow and brown moth was identified as a new species. Unfortunately, his store-box containing 50 or so specimens was burned by Cribb’s landlady in revenge for rent arrears. The moth has not been seen alive since.
Three specimens survive, one in the Manchester Museum.
National Moth Night is on 7 June. Information from the Manchester Museum and Cheshire Wildlife Trust
last updated: 06/06/2008 at 17:55