What's on the wing...
Moths are one of the world’s most diverse groups of animals, far outnumbering the number of mammal species in existence. At Kingcombe we have hundreds of moths, and we’ve probably not seen half of them.
A single moth trap (a light lure and escape proof box) may bring in near to 100 striking moths from around the Kingcombe Centre and reserves; some remarkable for their intense colour, some for their great size, intricate patterns or surprising resemblances. Admittedly a few uninspiring looking individuals have given moths a bad name (perhaps the clouded drab and dingy footman among them) but all moths, beautiful or dreary in appearance, have important ecological roles to play.
Many moths don’t feed at all as adults but those that do may act as excellent pollinators; their hairy bodies collecting pollen from plants which have scented, white flowers - moths find these most easily in the dark. The huge abundance of moths makes them key players at the bottom of the food web, becoming desirable dinner for birds and bats. Caterpillars are frequently the victims of parasitism by ichneumon wasps, sometimes eaten alive from the inside out by the wasp larvae who skilfully consume the caterpillars vital organs last, preserving their feast and drawing out the horrific ordeal for the caterpillar.
If you’re looking for an in depth learning experience of moths, in October we have an exciting opportunity to study some of Dorset’s autumnal moths including the Blair’s wainscot, a red data book species which was discovered in Maiden Newton in 1996 having previously been considered extinct in the UK for almost half a century!
Or, if you’re coming for a weekend walk and a stop in the café, you might like to pop into our Swallow Barn to see if we’ve run a moth trap the previous night. You’ll have a chance to pour over some of our finds and practice your species ID.