Over the past few weeks there have been a variety of moths appearing around the country that are not common visitors. The influx of non-native moths may be due to a variety of reasons. It has been suggested that perhaps the Indian summer we experienced could have tempted them over, or that after strong northwards winds form the Sahara the moths were left with little choice.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the English pit stop, moth enthusiasts have turned nocturnal and set up their moth traps to record the exotic new species. One of the more famous species observed is the death’s head hawk moth. Well known for its star appearance in The Silence of the Lambs when a pupa of the moth was put into each of the victim’s mouths. Once the caterpillar transforms into a moth it is easily identified by what could be described as a skull on its thorax, it also can make a load squeak if handled.
Many of these moths will not breed in England as our winters are much to cold, and the caterpillars would not survive. Among the moths seen over the past few weeks are the crimson speckled moth, the vestal moth and the flame brocade.
“The flame brocade was resident in Sussex for at least half a century from about the mid-19th century and has been a scarce immigrant since then,” said Mark Parsons, a moth expert at the charity Butterfly Conservation. “This is the first time the moth has been seen in these numbers in this country for about 130 years. It appears to have been making an attempt to re-colonise these shores, possibly as a result of more favourable weather conditions through climate change.”