UK Moth Numbers Suffer Crash in Last 40 Years
A major scientific report reveals that there has been a significant decline in the population of the U.K.'s larger moths during the past 40 years.
Two-thirds of the recorded 337 species of common larger moths in Britain have declined. Thirty seven percent of species decreased by at least 50 percent. Three species - Orange Upperwing, Bordered Gothic and Brighton Wainscot - have all become extinct in the last four decades, according to the State of Britain's Larger Moths 2013 report. The report is produced by Butterfly Conservation and Rothamsted Research.
The new report is based on records running from 1968 to 2007 on common and widespread species. Some common garden species such as the V-moth, Garden Tiger and the Spinach have decreased by more than 90 percent from 1968-2007 and are facing the risk of extinction.
"Larger moths in Britain are showing substantial and significant decreases in their populations over this 40-year period," lead author of the study Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager, told BBC.
"This not only includes a big decrease in the total abundance of moths, but also a large decline in a large number of individual species."
Factors such as habitat loss and reduction in food sources are the major factors contributing to the decline of moth species, said the researchers.
While the study shows an overall decline in moths, there has also been a significant increase in the influx of new moth species to Britain. For the first time, more than 100 species have been recorded this century in Britain. At least 27 species of moths have colonized the country from the year 2000 onwards. There has been an increase in the footman group of moths, Least Carpet, Blair's Shoulder-knot and Treble Brown Spot moths.
Climate change is the major factor contributing to the arrival of new colonizers, as conditions become more suitable for continental species.
"This report paints a bleak picture about Britain's biodiversity. Much has been made of the decline of butterflies and honey bees but moths represent the massive, but largely un-noticed diversity of insects that form the vast majority of animal life in Britain," Fox said in a statement.
Fox warned that the overall decline of moth species could have an impact on plant pollination and animals such as garden and woodland birds, bats and small mammals, as they depend on moths for food. He highlighted the fact that the entry level enviro-agricultural stewardship schemes, like the one funded by the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, could provide a potential solution to stop moths' decline, reports the BBC.