Whoa! Averaging 66,000 Unique Weekly Readers! 

Local News

Micro Moth That’s A Master Of Camouflage Found For The First Time In Ireland

2 Mins read
‘Microscopic photography: Dave Allen from Allen & Mellon, Environmental Specialist in Belfast’

A camouflaged species of micro moth has been announced by the National Trust as the first of its kind to be found in Northern Ireland, likely reaching the West coast by being buffeted by strong winds across the Irish Sea.

The 5mm white-speckled smoke micro moth (Narycia duplicella) baffled experts when it was spotted in staff offices next door to Giant’s Causeway.

A member of the bagworm family, the caterpillars weave a protective case of silk and attach material from their immediate surroundings to create near perfect camouflage, making them almost imperceptible to the naked eye.

Its life cycle from egg to flying moth is usually a year and the caterpillar pupates for a month, usually in May, before emerging as a minute moth.

It is the first of its kind to be discovered on the island of Ireland and it was discovered by eagle eyed Dr Cliff Henry, area ranger for the National Trust on the wall of his office at Innisfree Farm, next door to Giant’s Causeway last month.

He said: “Few other insects can match moths for disguise. I only spotted it when a speck of green on a clean part of the wall caught my eye. When I took a closer I look I realised the speck was moving! A tiny 4mm caterpillar was hauling its little camouflaged house up the wall.

“These micro moths are normally found on a tree trunk or fence. Our office wall is the perfect spot for them as it’s shaded, north facing, and has the right lichen and algae that they feed on.

“The caterpillar emerged from eggs laid by its mum earlier this year. It’s incredible to think that these moths could have travelled –assisted by the wind – 15 miles or more across the sea from Scotland to arrive on the Causeway Coast.”

After the initial find, it took a while to identify the caterpillar, which is a native of England, Wales and Scotland.

When he couldn’t find the species on Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland’s moth species list, Dr Cliff sought second opinions from experts in Belfast and England who through microscopic investigation, and sharing photographs were able to confirm its identity.

Chairman of Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland, Adam Mantell said: “It’s fantastic to have a new species of moth confirmed in Ireland, something which doesn’t happen every day. It shows that we still have much to learn about our native species and demonstrates the value of recording what we see around us.”

Dr Cliff added: “It’s hard to exactly say why it has turned up at the Causeway or for how long it’s been here. The most likely scenario is that it has been here under our noses for years. It’s just lucky I was in the right place at the right time to see it.”

The sighting will now be fed into the global database via CEDaR (Centre for Environmental Data Recording), which helps us get a picture of how all wildlife is doing. The National Trust also carries out butterfly, bumble bee and bird surveys each year.

Dr Cliff concluded: “Creatures like moths are important to track and monitor, as they are part of the ecosystem and the more we understand, the more equipped we are to help encourage healthy, sustainable environments.

“As the UK’s largest conservation charity, restoring and looking after nature is at the heart of everything we do. So this is a very exciting discovery for us and we’ll be keeping a close eye on these micro moths to ensure that they thrive in what is a new habitat for them.”

Digital Editorial Team
11920 posts

About author
An article that is attributed to the Causeway Coast Community Team has either involved multiple authors, written by a contributor or the main body of content is from a press release. Got a news-related tip you’d like to see covered on Causeway Coast Community? Email us - [email protected]
Articles
Related posts
Local News

Portstewart : Fire crews tackle early morning vehicle fire

1 Mins read
FacebookTwitterPinterestWhatsAppFire crews were called out this morning to a vehicle fire in the Sea Haven Park area of Portstewart shortly after 3am….
Local News

Police appeal for information following Coleraine burglary

1 Mins read
FacebookTwitterPinterestWhatsAppDetectives are appealing for information following the report of a burglary at the home of a family in the Cypress Drive area…
Local News

Saturday : Treacherous conditions on NI roads

1 Mins read
FacebookTwitterPinterestWhatsAppTemperatures plummeted overnight across the Borough with the mercury dropping to below minus 1C. Snow and wintry showers may make it ‘a…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *