Securing the future of a rare moth at Copt Hall Marshes

Reeds lean inward against a backdrop of blue, cloudy sky

The future of one of Britain’s rarest moths, the Fisher’s Estuarine Moth, is looking slightly brighter after a second batch of eggs have been introduced at Copt Hall Marshes.

Thanks to Colchester Zoo’s native breeding programme and habitat creation work completed by our rangers in Essex, the moth eggs have been successfully released for a second year.

" To introduce a second batch of eggs a year on is a great follow up and an important step forward, working in partnership on a landscape scale to help safeguard this unique Essex species for the future. "
- David Piper, Ranger

The eggs originated from Skipper’s Island Nature Reserve, an Essex Wildlife Trust site, which holds the core population of the moth. Thanks to a licence from Natural England, eggs were collected from the reserve for the breeding programme, which first introduced the species to newly created habitat sites around Essex last year.

Rare moth eggs are introduced at Copt Hall Marshes
Rare moth eggs are released in hogs fennel at Copt Hall Marshes


Why Copt Hall Marshes?


It’s just one site across Essex where the caterpillar’s sole food, Hog’s Fennel, has been planted.
The habitat at Copt Hall is ideal for the introduction of the moth, showing how well the habitat has established since our extensive efforts and support from Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agri-environment scheme.
 
The main areas of the moth’s habitat are very vulnerable to flooding and it is likely that the incidences of flooding will become more frequent and even more severe in the future as a consequence of climate change. 
 
To secure the long-term future of Fisher’s Estuarine Moth in the UK it has been necessary to create a landscape-scale network of sites on higher ground – away from the threat of flooding. To date, the creation of habitat for this species has involved planting over 38,000 Hog’s Fennel plants.