Whipsnade helping to prevent Barberry carpet moths disappearing from British hedgerows
Tuesday 19 September 2000
WHIPSNADE WILD ANIMAL PARK IN BID TO PROTECT BARBERRY CARPET MOTH DISAPPEARING FROM BRITISH HEDGEROWS
Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is taking a leading role in preventing extinction of the Barberry carpet moth. Since 1987, numbers of this species have reduced dramatically due to habitat destruction. At one time, the Barberry carpet moth was restricted to a single hedgerow in Suffolk. Previously found in hedgerows throughout England and Wales, the moths live and feed on the Barberry plant which was identified as being an intermediate host for the wheat rust fungus affecting agricultural crops. As a result, the plant was extensively eliminated, thereby threatening the Barberry carpet moth with extinction.
In an attempt to increase numbers, Whipsnade has been heavily involved in a project, in conjunction with English Nature, to breed the species in captivity, and then to release them into the wild.
Approximately 100 larvae were produced in spring 2000, and these pupated to emerge as moths in July. These moths went on to produce approximately 1,000 larvae, 450 of which have been taken to a secret location in East Anglia and released.
"Moths do not share the popularity of butterflies," commented Whipsnade keeper Trevor Moxley, "but they do have an important place in numerous organic and ecological cycles and are a significant food source for birds, bats and countless other insectivorous species. Moths are also invaluable pollinators. We’re working hard at Whipsnade to ensure that the humble moth doesn’t become a species of the past."
Visit our website: www.whipsnade.co.uk
PHOTOGRAPH AVAILABILE – contact Sue Wilks (tel: 020 7881 3232) for details
For further information, contact:
Susan Wilks/Alex Hall, RPPR
Telephone: 020 7881 3232.
Simon Hodge, Whipsnade Wild Animal Park
Telephone: 01582 872 171
— ENDS —