Colony of rare moths found in Outwood

A heart moth (photo: Butterfly Conservation / David Green)


Five heart moths were recently found at the National Trust’s Harewoods estate in Outwood.

Butterfly Conservation, a wildlife charity, says only three other heart moths have been found in the UK in surveys carried out this year.

The find at Harewoods was made during a search led by Butterfly Conservation, close to where a single moth was discovered in 2009.

Taking its name from the heart-shaped mark on its wing, the insect used to be far more common across south east England, but in recent years has only been recorded on a small number of sites.

Mark Richards, lead ranger at Harewoods, described the discovery as “a great find”, adding:

“Looking at the numbers recorded in this one survey, it would appear there is a strong colony on the estate, which is particularly rewarding given the work we have done to restore the habitat.”

The moths were found in a field on the estate that the National Trust began managing ten years ago, returning it to a wood pasture habitat.

The estate has over 2,000 acres of land made up of tenanted farmland, woodland, common land and ponds.

Mark added:

“As part of our ‘Land, Outdoors and Nature’ strategy we are looking at ways of working with our tenant farmers to ensure that mature oaks within the farmland, hedgerows and field boundaries are cared for in such a manner that they continue to provide this perfect habitat.”

Steve Wheatley, senior regional officer for Butterfly Conservation in the South East said:

“Following surveys covering at least 12 sites across five counties this season, only eight Heart Moths were found in the UK in 2018. Five of these eight were found at the National Trust’s Harewood property in Surrey on 24 June by volunteer Bob Arnfield and National Trust Ranger Eleanor Yoxall, making it the strongest known colony in the UK.”

Steve also commented on the benefits of joint working between Butterfly Conservation and the National Trust.

“It was great to with the National Trust on this project and we’re very grateful to the National Trust site management team for enabling this important work.

Working in partnership allows us to combine our strengths and it is critical to deliver the best conservation”.

More information about the Harewoods estate can be found on a National Trust webpage.

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation also has a website.