Country Corner - How the humble moth can teach us a lot

The Brimstone moth with its distinctive yellow wings.
The Brimstone moth with its distinctive yellow wings.

What a wee stunner the Brimstone Moth is! writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

As you might guess moth monitoring season has returned and I am busy counting and identifying these amazing creatures.

This I do at a couple of sites for clients and at another two sites, including my own garden, for my own interest.

Clients need to monitor the insects on their estates to tell them whether their land management and conservation measures are working.

Insects are a living barometer with which to measure changes to the local environment.

At a more elementary level, management usually involves the vegetation, perhaps strimming, spraying, planting or grazing.

All of these and more are used in ongoing estate management.

To tell whether these measures are having beneficial or detrimental effects, it is often best to ask the insects.

By keeping tabs on insect populations from year to year, you soon know whether your efforts are working.

Of course, I also carry out botanical surveys on the wild plants and habitats, but insects can tell you just as much about changes to plant life.

All of these things are inter related from the organisms in the soil, right up through the chain to our largest animals and trees.

So, who would believe that humble moths have so much to teach us?

Personally, I like to find as many sub adult moths and butterflies as I can during surveys.

As most moths and butterflies are very specific about which plants they will lay their eggs on, it becomes possible to say which habitats on the estate are supporting which insects.

Who would believe insects could teach us so much!