Colony of rare Heart Moths found

Heart Moth found at Harewoods Estate

The rare Heart Moth has been found at the National Trust’s Harewood Estate near Outwood in Surrey.

The survey was led by wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation, who carried out the search close to where a single moth was found in 2009.  

" Following surveys covering at least 12 sites across five counties this season, only eight Heart Moths were found in the UK in 2018. Five of these eight were found at the National Trust’s Harewood property in Surrey on 24th June by volunteer Bob Arnfield and National Trust Ranger Eleanor Yoxall, making it the strongest known colony in the UK."
- Steve Wheatley, Senior Regional Officer for Butterfly Conservation in the South East

The Heart Moth gets its name from the heart-shaped mark on its wing. In national figures it has declined severely in recent years in line with many other moth species. The Heart Moth used to be far more widespread and abundant across south east England, but in recent years has only been recorded on a small number of sites in Surrey, Berkshire and Northamptonshire.

" This is a great find, particularly given the moth’s rareness. Looking at the numbers recorded in this one survey, it would appear there is a strong colony on the estate, which is particularly rewarding given the work we have done to restore the habitat."
- Mark Richards, Lead Ranger at Harewoods in the Surrey Hills

The Heart Moths were recorded this year, for the first time, in a field on the Harewoods Estate that the National Trust took back in hand to manage ten years ago. Returning it to a wood pasture habitat, including an area with mature open grown oaks, has created the perfect habitat for the Heart Moth.

The Harewoods Estate is a National Trust property with over 2,000 acres of land made up of tenanted farmland, woodland, common land and ponds. There are open-grown mature oaks where the branches have been allowed to grow naturally and create a full-sized canopy. These oaks are of high conservation importance, creating the perfect habitat not only for Heart Moths but many other important species.

Mark Richards continued: “As part of our Land, Outdoors and Nature strategy we are looking at ways of working with our tenant farmers to ensure that mature oaks within the farmland, hedgerows and field boundaries are cared for in such a manner that they continue to provide this perfect habitat.

Steve Wheatley continued: “It was great to work with the National Trust on this project and we’re very grateful to the National Trust site management team for enabling this important work. Working in partnership allows us to combine our strengths and it is critical to deliver the best conservation”.

The Heart Moth initiative is supported by Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre.