A moth normally associated with southern England and Wales has been discovered in Scotland for the first time, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) can reveal.
The Twin-spotted Wainscot moth was found by BC volunteer, Mark Cubitt, in reed beds - the moths preferred habitat - close to the Grangemouth Oil Refinery near Falkirk.
Previously, the most northerly sighting of a Twin-spotted Wainscot was in County Durham, where the moth was first recorded in 2008.
Mark said: “I regularly put out moth traps near Grangemouth to see what species are around and to monitor their numbers, but I really wasn’t expecting this. I had two traps out that night and both caught Twin-spotted Wainscot moths – I was so surprised!
“I went back a week later to see if it had just been a random finding, but then I caught another two, which was very exciting. The moths were a lovely chestnut-brown colour with a white spot on each wing.”
The caterpillar of the Twin-spotted Wainscot feeds within the stems of common reed and the adult moth can be seen flying at dusk throughout August and September.
BC’s Senior Conservation Officer for Scotland, Tom Prescott, said: “The fact that four Twin-spotted Wainscot moths were found over a couple of weeks suggests that this moth has established in the area and not a recent arrival.
“The Twin-spotted Wainscot is a habitat specialist and not all reed beds are that accessible, so it is difficult to know if the moth is a previously over-looked resident in Scotland, or a recent arrival that is moving north due to climate change. However, either way it is a very exciting find and clearly shows what you can find if you just look.”
Volunteers from BC’s East Scotland Branch will be working alongside the local council’s biodiversity team next year, to carry out more surveys and moth trapping at other local reed beds.
Moth traps are left out overnight and anything caught is released unharmed the following morning.
Mark added: “We’re encouraging moth enthusiasts in the area to go out next year and have a look for the Twin-spotted Wainscot. This will give us a better idea of the local population and how best to manage the habitat and protect the wildlife found there.”
BC has more than 2000 members living in Scotland www.butterfly-conservation.org/scotland where we work closely with local communities, landowners, the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and other conservation partners, to safeguard Scotland’s butterflies, moths and their habitats.