Rare Moth Spotted on T&M Estate

Spotted in Hungerford on 12th September 2023 by the Town and Manor’s River Keeper, Rob Starr, this is a rare Clifden Nonpareil or Blue Underwing moth largest of the species Catocala fraxini.

The macro moth ‘Clifden Nonpareil’s’ name is derived from the location of the first British record of the species, at Cliveden estate in Berkshire in the 18th Century and the French for ‘without parallel’ with reference to its beauty.

It became extinct in the UK in the 1960s. A time when post war changes to forestry were in full swing, when the moth’s larval foodplants, aspens and other poplars, were largely being replaced by faster growing harvestable timbers. Much of the Town and Manor’s estate consists of water meadow and chalk stream bounded by dense thickets of poplars; ideal larval food for the Blue Underwing.

For decades the Blue Underwing was a rare migrant to the UK. When the national Moth Night surveys began in 1999 this was indeed the case, but by 2007 there were signs it was beginning to recolonise parts of Southern England. Evidence of populations were found in in North Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, South Wilshire, Dorset and Kent.

In 2023 there have been even more sightings nationally and to have found one on Town and Manor land in West Berkshire is very exciting.

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