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Rare moth spotted in Notts for first time

29 June 2012
Small ranunculus moth

A rare species of moth, once thought to have completely disappeared from the UK, has been spotted in parts of Nottinghamshire for the first time.

The small ranunculus moth disappeared from the UK prior to the Second World War but reappeared in the south-east in the late 1990s and has now been recorded in different parts of the country, including Nottinghamshire.

Wildlife experts from Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council have had reports of sightings of the moths from residents in Beeston Rylands, Wollaton and West Bridgford.

Roger Freestone of West Bridgford photographed the moth in his garden in July last year.

It is thought that the moth has been attracted by brownfield sites such as quarries and disused railway lines which typically hold plants that the moth's larvae feed on. But all four reported sightings in Nottinghamshire have been in private gardens, where it was thought to be feeding on cultivated lettuce.

Now the County Council is urging more people to be on the look out for the moths, either in their gardens or when they are out and about.

Nick Crouch, Nature Conservation Leader at Nottinghamshire County Council said, "The small ranunculus moth is recognisable by its intricately mottled grey, black and gold colours, although it can be mistaken for other, more common species.

"The first recorded sighting in Nottinghamshire was in June 2009. There were no further sightings in 2010 but there were three in July last year.

Report sightings

"All the occasions they've been spotted in Nottinghamshire have been in late June or July, so I'd encourage people to keep an eye out for them and to report any sightings to the Nottinghamshire Biological and Geological Records Centre.

"The moths appear to have re-entered the UK from mainland Europe. The first sightings in this country were in the south-east, in Kent and Essex but over the last few years they have spread gradually north and west. Moths are an important indicator of the health of our environment so it is good news that his species appears to be establishing a foothold in the county."

Any sightings of the small ranunculus moth can be reported to the Nottinghamshire Biological and Geological Records Centre, Courtyard Buildings, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham or by email to nbgrcg@nottinghamcity.gov.uk - ideally with a photograph to allow the identification to be confirmed.

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