The secret world of moths

A chimney sweeper moth amongst the grass

The humble moth may often be overlooked in favour of the more glamorous butterfly. But those who ignore these fluttering delights are missing out on one of nature’s best kept secrets.

‘Moths will amaze you,’ says butterfly and moth expert, Matthew Oates.

Sadly, along with many other species, British moths are in trouble. Their habitat is being destroyed. A national sample by the Butterfly Conservation Society indicated a drop in the number of larger moths of 28% over the 40 years from 1968 to 2007.

We are doing all we can to reverse this decline and create more space for moths at our places.

Moth varieties

‘Moths are an incredibly varied group of creatures,’ says Oates. ‘They come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and colour. They live in a great diversity of habitats.

‘They also do incredible things. The larvae of footmen moths feed on lichens. And those of the Waved Black feed on slime moulds.

‘And they have such wonderful names. Such as True Lovers Knot, Mother of Pearl, Feathered Gothic and Setaceous Hebrew Character.’

Fascinating creatures

‘Moths are a really important part of the food chain,’ says Oates. ‘Adult moths are eaten by bats and birds. Their larvae provide food for birds and predatory insects. They also have an important role as pollinators.’

But above all they are interesting and beautiful creatures in their own right. ‘Even so-called ordinary garden moths are fascinating creatures,’ says Oates. He firmly believes that finding out more will inspire you to do your bit and grow moth, butterfly, bee and hoverfly friendly plants at home.

‘Best of all, we're only just unravelling the mysteries of their ecology now,’ says Oates.
‘New species are appearing in the UK every year.'

moth trapping

Mad about moths

Eager to find out more about these winged creatures of the night? Our Giant's Causeway area ranger Dr Cliff Henry tells us what fascinates him about moths. Find out how to make your garden inviting to moths as well.