Flanders Moss NNR
You might have noticed a distinct mothy theme to the blog recently as the NNR team have become slightly moth obsessed. We’ve been moth trapping on Flanders Moss to monitor the assemblage of rare moth species there and have also set up traps at our workshop for our mothy monday morning meetings.
Often moths are thought of as small, brown and boring night-flyers in comparison to the beautiful, colourful butterflies we see flying around in the daytime. But we’re here to dispel that myth! We have a huge diversity of moths in the UK, roughly 2,500 species, many of which are brightly coloured and active during the day. In fact, butterflies are actually a kind of subset of moths and there are more similarities between them than you might think.
Even the brown jobs can be pretty spectacular as we have been finding out at Flanders Moss. One of my favourites is the drinker moth and last week we had a trap full of them on the moss! Drinkers are a common species, found in a variety of habitats including damp grassland and boggy areas like Flanders. They are robust little beasts with chunky, super fluffy bodies and a surprisingly strong grip when you hold them. Their prominent snout makes them look very cute and quite mammalian, almost womble-like (nope? just me?).
In this particular trap we caught loads of drinkers because of this wee lady…
The female had attracted around 20 males to the trap by pumping out a chemical signal that broadcasts the message “OVER HERE!” to any males in the area. Males have large feathered antennae to increase the surface area for detecting these pheromones and can locate a female within a 100m radius. That’s pretty impressive for such a little moth!
Drinker moths are nocturnal so you are only likely to see them when using a moth trap but there are also plenty of day-flying moths and butterflies on Flanders Moss which can be seen on your visit. If you’re visiting the reserve before the 9th of August, why not take part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, the world’s largest citizen science survey to assess the health of our environment. Find out how to get involved by counting butterflies and day-flying moths here.