Rare moth spreads its wings to new sites

December 2010

Image for press release
(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Writtle College working together with Natural England, Tendring District Council, Colchester Zoo, Essex Wildlife Trust, and Essex Biodiversity Project have supported the breeding programme of the rare moth - Fisher’s Estuarine. Over a number of years Writtle students and conservation volunteers have created 20 new sites for the moth to colonise.

In March 2010, batches of Fisher’s Estuarine moth eggs bred at Colchester Zoo were introduced onto two sites in a bid to help secure the future of the species in Britain. The two sites at Essex Wildlife Trust’s Abbott’s Hall Farm in Great Wigborough, and at a farm in Thorpe-le-Soken, had undergone several years of habitat management in preparation for receiving these eggs. The sites were surveyed in July for the caterpillar’s feeding signs and in September for the adult moth. Since the release of these eggs, good numbers of feeding signs and moths have been recorded at both release sites.

The programme funded and overseen by Natural England leads on from research and habitat creation work conducted by Dr Zoe Ringwood.

Dr Ringwood says "This project is a fine example of putting scientific knowledge into practice to conserve a threatened species. It is absolutely fantastic that after ten years of hard work and dedication we are now at a stage where Fisher’s Estuarine Moth is colonising new areas of habitat that have been created for it. The aim of securing the long-term future of the species by establishing a sustainable network of populations away from the threats of rising sea-levels is now within sight. This is a reflection of partnership working and particularly the commitment of a number of individuals. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of the Higher level Stewardship (HLS) scheme as a practical tool for species-level conservation."

More details can be found on the Natural England website.

Pictured - Moth eggs and caterpillars at Colchester zoo