Moths are pollinators too

| 28th May 2019
A survey by YouGov of 2,064 people also found 17 percent thought moths were ugly and 12 percent thought they were scary.

They pollinate many plants and they tell us about how the world is changing around us.

Moths evoke negative feelings for almost three quarters of people - with many thinking of them merely as destroyers of clothes or as pests, a survey suggests.

A poll for wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation found 74 percent of people linked moths to negative things, including 64 percent who thought of them as eating clothes and a third (33 percent) who associated them with being pests.

Their reputation comes despite the fact that only two of the more than 2,500 UK species of moth in the UK are known to feed on fabrics, Butterfly Conservation said.

Caterpillars

And rather than being pests, most moths play an important role in the food chain and as pollinators, the charity said as it launched a new campaign to turn around the insects' negative reputation.

The survey by YouGov of 2,064 people also found 17 percent thought moths were ugly and 12 percent thought they were scary, but more than one in five (21 percent) believed they were important and almost a third (29 percent) think they are interesting.

The new campaign, Moths Matter, will reveal how the insects are a key food source for many creatures, from bats to small mammals, and play an important role in pollinating wildflowers including orchids, and garden plants.

It is also highlighting some of the more unusual moths found in the UK, including the death's-head hawk-moth which can squeak like a mouse, the Mother Shipton which has a witch's face on its wings and the caterpillar of the puss moth, which can shoot acid out of its chest.

It will focus on a different theme each month, from spotting springtime caterpillars to planting a garden to attract night-flying visitors and hunting for hawk-moths in hedgerows.

Changing

Butterfly Conservation also warns that the UK's moths are in trouble, as two thirds of common and widespread species have declined in the last 40 years.

Leading moth scientist Dr Phil Sterling said the experts were not surprised by the findings. "People may think of a few times a large moth has startled them and then write them off as annoying or unnecessary; that is wholly unfair," he said.

"Think of the humming-bird hawk-moth you might see hovering around lavender in summer. It is a thing of beauty and of wonder as it feeds so precisely in each flower.

"Each of the 2,500 species tells a different story about the natural world of moths around us.

"Most of them get on with their lives at night and we don't see them, but they are important to us, they pollinate many plants and they tell us about how the world is changing around us."

This Author

Emily Beament is the Press Association environment correspondent.

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