Where have Britain's moths gone?

Neil Jones neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk
Tue Feb 21 15:57:17 EST 2006

On Tue, 2006-02-21 at 18:56, Roger Kuhlman wrote:
> I also wonder if the population of Britain continues to grow. More suburban 
> and exurban sprawl, more consumption and a growing population is not a good 
> sign for future ecological health.
> Roger Kuhlman
> Ann Arbor, Michigan

If I recall correctly the results of  the last census showed little
change in our population. Whilst there is obviously some problem with
development we do have very very strong land use planning laws here
which are very strict. They control both the construction and appearance
of buildings.

For example, as I understand it, I could if I so wished put a satellite
dish on my house, but if I were to wish to erect a second one I would
require what we call "Planning Permission".

The real issue would seem to be agricultural damage to habitats, but
this is what the report the press release was talking about says. 

It gives figures for habitat loss for various habitats since the 1940s
Ranging from Lowland Flower Rich Grass land at 97% to Hedgerows
England (67%), Hedgerows Scotland ( 54%) and lowland heathland (40%)

and then says:-

"There is insufficient evidence at present to determine the level of
impact of habitat change on the declines of common moths . However the
substantial loss of hedgerows , destruction of field margins and
reseeding and fertilization of pastures etc. is likely to have been a
major factor. A recent comparison of organic and conventional mixed
farms in southern Britain found significantly more moths on the organic

This supports a previous analysis of data from a very long-running light
trap on the Rothhamsted Farm , which found that agricultural
intensification during the 1950s had caused a significant decrease in
Moth numbers and diversity."

The full report is purchasable  from the Butterfly Conservation website.

I think the following quote from the Foreword by Sir David Attenborough
who is Butterfly Conservation's honorary President.
"I commend this report to you and hope that is spurs a concerted action
to save moths, not just for themselves , but also for the many species
that depend on them or share thier habitats, including ourselves.

Neil Jones
Neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk http://www.butterflyguy.com 


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


More information about the Leps-l mailing list