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A rare moth found in low numbers has got experts in a flutter by appearing in force at a Forestry Commission wood in the North East.
Over 1,000 green-winged Forester moths have been recorded in 200-hectare (500-acre) Coatham Wood, planted over the last decade on former agricultural land at Long Newton, near Middlesbrough.
Butterfly Conservation say that makes Coatham the best known site in the UK for the creature which is so thin on the ground it merits its own Biodiversity Action Plan.
The news is a massive boost to conservation efforts and has caused a major stir. Dave Wainwright, from Butterfly Conservation in the North East, said:
"To say we were astounded by this record from Coatham is an under-statement. We are talking about a pretty unusual moth here with specific habitat requirements. Our local recorder who made discovery said he stopped counting after he had spotted over 1,200 moths. It's created quite a buzz and is really tremendous news."
Forester moths fly on sunny days from mid May to July and at Coatham caterpillars are probably feeding on the sorrel, whilst adults will take nectar from a range of flowers. Although they can occur over a wide geographical area, they are locally rare, and also declining.
The discovery was made on a 2.5 hectare (6.23 acre) wild-flower meadow alongside the main woodland at Coatham, which was planted with 500,000 trees after the Forestry Commission bought the site in 1999.
Ian Blair, from the Forestry Commission, added:
"We set out to create a range of habitats, including mixed woodland, forest glades and ponds and we also sowed nearly six hectares of former wheat fields with wild flower seed. That’s obviously done the trick. It's always good to hear of wildlife thriving rather than declining and the wonderfully named Forester moth could almost be Coatham's new emblem."
NOTE TO EDITORS
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more visit www.forestry.gov.uk/yorkshireandthehumber
Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.