A while ago, I spotted a testimonial on the Meadowmat website from a lady called Emma.  Emma and her family love to study the wildlife in their garden, particularly the moths.

Here’s what she wrote.

“Apologies for giving this so late after we had our Meadowmat. It was delivered quickly early summer, fairly easy to lay and then maintain. We marvelled at the lovely array of flowers we got during the summer and let it grow well. We trap moths in our garden and we have noticed some new species arriving due to the new turf and plants. We look forward to our first cut in spring, I think, then to see what pops up in spring! Thank you Meadowmat!”

Being a nosy sort of a person, I was intrigued.  So I contacted Emma to find out more.  She told me “I've always found that once we've introduced a new plant in the garden we get a new moth or two and that's their food plant! I truly believe that this is not coincidence as maybe the caterpillar has pupated under or within the plant like most of them do naturally!”

Why are moths important?

Like many other people, I’ve never taken a lot of interest in moths.  I’ve seen them of course.  They’re the brown things that come in my bedroom window at night and ping around the light bulb.  However, Emma recommended some reading material (more on that later) and after spending a couple of hours on the internet.  I’m now getting a feel for how diverse, interesting and important these creatures are.

Unidentified moth feeding on thrift flower

Unidentified moth clearly enjoying the nectar rich thrift flowers in Meadowmat Roof and Garden

Did you know that some bird species feed their young exclusively on moth caterpillars? Or that bats rely on adult moths for food?

Just like butterflies, moths are fussy about where they lay their eggs and what their babies feed on.  Most moths have specific plants that they need to survive.

Moths are important pollinators and they are thought of by naturalists as the canaries of the countryside.  Not because they sing, but because they’re very sensitive to changes in the environment. 

When moth populations start to wane then we may have a problem.  According to one Butterfly Conservation charity, two thirds of the common and widespread moths in Britain showed a decline in their populations over the last 35 years.

It seems as though it’s time we started to take more notice of these creatures.

Spotting Moths

These creatures are masters of camouflage and of course most of them are active when we are safely tucked up in bed.  So spotting them can be a challenge.  Unless, like Emma, you use a moth trap.

small boy hunting for moths in wildflower meadow

Bug hunting and moth trapping are a great way to encourage children to engage with and learn about nature

Basically, a moth trap harnesses the moth’s affinity to light, enticing them in and then trapping them overnight in a safe environment.  Come the morning they can be identified, counted and set free.

You can build your own moth trap, or you can buy one fairly cheaply online.  Make sure though it’s the right sort of trap, you’re not aiming to kill or control them.  One entemologists website recommends the Skinner 125W MV trap as being effective and not too expensive.  

There are 2,500 species of moth in the UK – so you’ll need a good book to identify them with.  Emma recommends

Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by Paul Waring and Martin Townsend

And

Field Guide to the Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by Phil Stirling and Mark Parsons

Creating Habitat for Moths

Some moths are exclusive to small areas of the UK.  You will never find them in your garden.  Some live only in woodland, others prefer grassland, some are quite widespread.

By growing a variety of native plants you grow, you increase the chances of moths visiting and even breeding in your garden.

Birdsfoot trefoil is a wildflower found in all five varieties of Meadowmat wild flower turf.  As well as being important for bumblebees and honeybees it is the larval food plant for 22 species of moth.

Bladder campion has unusually shaped flowers, blooms in early summer and supports 5 species of moth.

Common knapweed – a statuesque plant, attracts butterflies by day and supports 16 moth species

And it’s not just flowering plants that are important. Poa Annua – a grass – is the scurge of greenskeepers but it is vital for the survival of 5 types of  moth.

The list goes on……..

Little wonder that Emma spotted new species of moth in her garden after she introduced Meadowmat.  It creates the ideal habitat for these valuable and fascinating creatures.

Now, where’s my torch? I’m going to see what I can find in my mini-meadow.

 

Planting for Pollinators

Encouraging butterflies, moths and bees into your garden.

 

 

Visit Emma’s blog for more info about the wildlife in her garden

Find out how to grow a wildflower area in your garden

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