One of the UK’s rarest moths has taken up residence at a country park in Cornwall, Butterfly Conservation has revealed.
The Beautiful Pearl, previously found only in Kent, has established a breeding colony in the woodlands at Mount Edgcumbe, near Cremyll, Torpoint.
The finger-tip-sized micro moth boasts yellow and orange speckled patterns on its upper wings.
Volunteers from the Cornwall Branch of Butterfly Conservation found several caterpillars at the site last summer, but had to wait until this spring for them to mature into adults to confirm that the moth was breeding at the site.
Mark Parsons, Head of Moth Conservation from Butterfly Conservation, said: “This is really exciting as until now, the species has been restricted in Britain to Blean Woods in Kent.
He added: “We’re also aware of further sightings in coastal areas from Cornwall right up to Suffolk and searches at some of these sites could locate further populations.”
The night-flying adult feeds on the leaves of the Hornbeam trees and is on the wing from May to June.
Nick Butcher, Deputy Park Manager at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, said: “All the staff were excited after several caterpillars were found last August.
“Over the winter months we waited like expectant parents for the colony to be confirmed. Now that it has, we will work with Butterfly Conservation to try and enhance the habitat so this population can flourish.”
Moths and butterflies are key indicator species for assessing the health of the environment.
Four species of butterfly and over 60 moth species became extinct last century, with the numbers of moths in Southern England declining faster than in any other part of the country.