There is a wide variety of moths on all Irish farm types, according to research conducted as part of the farmer-led moth monitoring EIP project.

Greater numbers and diversity of moths were found in non-lethal traps set near hedgerows in the farms tested than through traps set in the middle of fields.

“This was not terribly surprising, as hedgerows often contain a rich variety of nectar sources for adult moths as well as foodplants for the caterpillars.

“They also make effective hiding places during the day for moths to avoid predation by birds, mammals and other insects,” organisers of the Farmer Moth Monitoring EIP said.

Overall, while the diversity of moth species found on different farms types varied, with more species found on beef and mixed farms, this was often a reflection of the number of trapping sessions which took place.

Once this was taken into consideration, there was little difference between the difference farm types, with beef, dairy, tillage and mixed farms all having similar numbers.

Farmer involvement

The aim of the Farmer Moth Monitoring EIP was to test the feasibility of farmers helping to monitor moths that occur on their farms, to complement the moth trapping being done by the Moths Ireland network.

The project was developed from the existing Protecting Farmland Pollinators EIP which is a five-year EIP that has identified small actions that 40 farmers can take that allow biodiversity to coexist within a productive farming system.

The moth and pollinator monitoring technique used by the farmers involved is now suitable for a national roll out, according to project organisers.


Species such as the Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba), Common Rustic (Mesapamea secalis agg.) and the Heart-and-Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) commonly occurred across many of the farms tested while others such as the Heath Rustic (Xestia agathina) and Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina) only appeared once.

Forty-three of Ireland’s 578 species of macro-moths are threatened with extinction, whilst the conservation status of Ireland’s micro-moths is unknown. Evidence from elsewhere however suggests that many species are in decline.

Habitat destruction and degradation, driven by land-use change and chemical pollution is thought to be one of the leading causes of this decline.

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