Mystery of the moth with no name

IT'S the moth with no name – well, not one most people would understand.But enthusiasts are very excited at the discovery of the rare species, which has been found by experts at Landguard Bird Observatory at Felixstowe.

By Richard Cornwell

IT'S the moth with no name – well, not one most people would understand.

But enthusiasts are very excited at the discovery of the rare species, which has been found by experts at Landguard Bird Observatory at Felixstowe.

The moth, described as drab-coloured and unlikely to attract lots of sightseers, does not have a common name and is known by the Latin title of Agonopterix curvipunctosa, and exists at only one other site in the UK.


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The moth, which is about one centimetre long, has been present at Landguard for several years but has only recently been correctly identified as previous specimens seen were thought to be a similar species.

"Unfortunately I mis-identified these tiny creatures as one of its near relatives" said Nigel Odin, who checks and identifies moths at the bird observatory.

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"With the specialist habitat that exists at Landguard it is hardly surprising that we have rare insects in addition to all the rare plants.

"The fact that this moth is known from only one other site in the United Kingdom, in Devon, is further evidence of the immense importance of Landguard to wildlife, not just locally, but nationally."

The identification of the tiny insect has been confirmed by national experts and an article on its discovery has been published in the journal Atropus.

Only a small number of individuals have been seen each year with most of the sightings in spring.

"Hopefully this rarity will continue to survive at Landguard despite the ever increasing visitor pressure on the site," said Mr Odin.

"This moth, despite its rarity, is not likely to be a big crowd-puller as it is so small and drab-coloured and is only likely to appeal to a few moth enthusiasts."

Landguard Bird Observatory, which undertakes and co-ordinates the moth recording at the 58-acre nature reserve, is is supported by a newly formed local charity Landguard Conservation Trust, set up to help protect Landguard Point for the benefit of its wildlife and the people who use it.

One of its many aims will be to encourage research into Agonopterix curvipunctosa and to try and ensure its continual survival at Landguard.

Enthusiasts have been recording visits by dozens of different moths to the site for the past decade by using specialist traps to catch the insects so they can be identified and then released.

Landguard is also home to many rare shingle flowers, and habitat for shore birds and migrants. It has more than 375 different species of plants. One-third of all British grasses grow there, and other rare plants include sea pea and kales and yellowhorned poppy.

WEBLINKS: homepage.ntlworld.com/bill.mackie/

www.landguard.com

www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/suffolk

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