Chalk Carpet Moth Survey 2017
The chalk carpet moth inhabits calcareous grassland (overlying chalk and limestone), particularly that which has formed in old limestone quarries and other sites with a history of disturbance. The moth is nocturnal but can be readily disturbed during the daytime and flies short distances before re-settling in grasses or on bare ground. Its whitish-grey coloration and medium size (wingspan 32-38 mm) enables it to be easily monitored.Widespread in Southern England where it is found locally in calcareous habitats, it becomes much more localised in the Midlands, whilst isolated colonies occur in North Wales, Yorkshire and County Durham.
A need for survey
Chalk carpet moth has declined in the Durham area to the point where there is only one recent record from Wingate Quarry.
Working in partnership with Butterfly Conservation, Durham Wildlife Trust wish to conduct a public led volunteer survey to gather information on this species’ distribution and conservation in the Durham area. We hope to use the data gathered to inform future conservation of this species and the habitats where it is found. The project will train a number of volunteers in the ecology, survey and conservation of this threatened moth species and will create an environment in which people can learn new skills, develop their interests and be active.
A specialist of sparsely vegetated ground or very short turf on chalk downland, limestone grassland, chalk cliffs, chalk or limestone quarries and embankments, this moth faces an uncertain future both locally and nationally as management of the limited sites on which it is found changes. These changes include;
• Scrub encroachment and other successional changes that result in the loss of suitable habitat and food-plants.
• Increasing fragmentation and isolation of existing colonies.
• Loss of suitable habitat development, unsympathetic landscaping, conversion to intensive agriculture or other damaging land operations.
• Loss of bare ground at sites through lack of disturbance and/or management
The chalk carpet breeds on several leguminous plants, especially common bird’s-foot-trefoil, and also requires a varied vegetation structure with a continuity of areas of short turf with patches of bare ground. The moth has been observed to seek out patches of bare limestone or bare soil for basking and roosting.
Durham has a number of former and currently operational limestone quarries, suitable for the chalk carpet moth. Currently there are few records for this moth in the county and more information on this moth’s distribution in County Durham is required to better inform the conservation of this species.
19th July @ Wingate Quarry (11am Start, 3pm Finish)
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