Rare flame brocade moth is established in the UK

Flame brocade moth (Image: Michael Blencowe) The location of the new colony is being kept under wraps in order to protect the rare moths

Related Stories

The charity Butterfly Conservation says that the rare moth typically found in the Mediterranean has become established in the UK.

The flame brocade moth appears to have started a new colony on the south coast of England.

Researchers from the charity have attributed the arrival of an unusually high number of migrant species to the recent warm weather.

They described this year's migration season as the best in years.

MOTH OR BUTTERFLY?

Cinnabar is an unusually colourful moth (Image: Les Hill)
  • Moths and butterflies both belong to the order Lepidoptera - but if you look closely, it is relatively easy to spot the difference
  • Moths tend to have thick, fuzzy bodies, whereas butterfly bodies are usually thin and smooth
  • Butterflies are active during the day but moths get busy at night; there are exceptions though, such as the hummingbird hawk moth, which flies both day and night
  • Butterflies tend to be more brightly coloured than moths, although there are some very colourful moths, such as the cinnabar (pictured)

Some of the insects will have flown for three or four days to get to the UK, on the back of a helpful southerly tailwind.

The organisation's head of moth conservation, Mark Parsons, said: "Autumn is usually a good time for immigrant species, but it's the sheer number and diversity this year that's special."

The flame brocade, perhaps the most significant arrival, was first spotted by chance in a back garden in Sussex.

Michael Blencowe, BC's officer in the county said: "I'd never seen one of these moths before so I grabbed my net and went off to find out if there were any others about at a suitable site nearby.

"I saw 10 that night and there have been recordings of 20 or more there every night since"

In the past just a few flame brocades have been spotted on UK shores; this is the largest number seen in the country for 130 years. It has led experts to suggest that there may now be a moth colony on the site.

Strange visitors

In Dorset, the moth made famous by the film Silence of the Lambs has been seen at an RSPB nature reserve. The death's head hawk moth has a striking skull-like pattern on its thorax.

Large numbers of vestal moths and several crimson speckled moths have also been flying around the south coast of England and Wales. And the extremely rare tropical species, Spoladea recurvalis, has been recorded this year for the first time ever in Ireland, and for only the second time in Scotland.

It all adds up to the best year for migrating moths since 2006, which contrasts with a rather more bleak picture for the UK's native species.

Overall numbers of have fallen by a third in the last 35 years. Their natural habitat is slowly being eaten away by development and commercial farming.

There will be more on this story on Autumnwatch which begins on Friday at 2030 on BBC Two.

Follow @BBCNature on Twitter

More on This Story

Related Stories

More from nature

  • Cardinal fish and ostracodFish filmed spitting 'fireworks'

    Film crew captures ostracods' spectacular defensive lightshow that makes predatory fish spit them out.

  • Arapaima'Locally extinct'

    A giant fish which used to dominate the Amazon river is now absent in many areas


  • DragonflyRapid reactions

    Dragonfly's super quick reactions recorded in slow motion by BBC film-makers


  • Wingless adult male of the midge Belgica antarcticaExtreme survivor

    Antarctic midge's small genome may be an adaptation to its extreme environment


  • Myotis midastactus specimen (previously identified as Myotis simus)Golden discovery

    A bat from Bolivia is described as a new species by scientists


  • Dinosaurs 'shrank' to become birds

    Huge meat-eating, land-living dinosaurs evolved into birds by constantly shrinking for over 50 million years, new research shows.

  • Would we starve without bees?

    Honey bees are under threat, and as pollination significantly contributes to the food we eat, what would we do without them?

  • Eggshells may act like 'sunblock'

    Birds' eggs show adaptations in pigment concentration and thickness to allow the right amount of sun for embryos, scientists say.

  • Female shrimps are more aggressive

    Female snapping shrimps are more aggressive than males when defending their territories despite their smaller claw size, a study shows.

BBC iWonder

  • Honey bee close-upInsect intelligence

    Are honey bees as smart as your sat nav?

  • Tyrannosaurus rex skull (c) Mark Williamson / Science Photo LibraryDinosaur dynasty

    One group of dinosaurs survived and their descendants can be seen all around us today


  • Brown rat cluse upRise of the rodent

    Reports of giant, 'super rats' are filling the headlines. But why are we being overrun by rats?


  • Cuckoo portraitHoliday hotspot

    What makes the UK such an attractive destination for visiting wildlife?


Awesome! And there's nothing common about such beauty.

Elaine Bernon on Facebook comments on the trio of common blue butterflies in our Photo of the Day.

Things To Do

RUN BY THE BBC AND PARTNERS

More Nature Activities >

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.