DZG has handed over more than a hundred plants to mark the 20th anniversary of a programme to save an endangered species of moth.
Our green birthday gift will be planted at Butterfly Conservation sites where Barberry carpet moths (Pareulype berberata) are thriving and also at newly-founded moth zones.
The Barberry plants, on which the caterpillars feed, have been grown by DZG Native Species Co-ordinator Ian Hughes at his Welsh home and Westonbirt Arboretum, in Gloucestershire.
Throughout the past two decades DZG has bred 11,000 moths, which are fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Conservation Act, in partnership with Natural England.
The moths have been released into prepared sites across the country.
Ian said: “The Barberry carpet moth remains an endangered species, and DZG’s role in the project is crucial.
“The moth was once widespread but by 1987 was restricted to just a single known colony in Suffolk which has since been destroyed by accidental fire.
“Fortunately, after extensive searching, further colonies have been discovered in Southern England but the moth’s status is still endangered.”
He added: “Last week 2000 barberry carpet moth larvae were released onto a prepared site at the Cholderton (organically managed) Estate in Wiltshire as part of a partnership between DZG and Butterfly Conservation on the BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) for the species.
“We are especially grateeful to the Foresight of Dr Paul Waring and English Nature, now Natural England for setting up the site which has now matured.”
In recent years DZG has produced and delivered more than 200 plants to field workers involved in the partnership and plans to expand efforts as part of the UK Bio-Diversity Action plan to engage more zoos and botanical gardens in a new project entitled Barberry Highways.
This will link Chester, Twycross and Dudley Zoos along with Rodbaston College, in Staffordshire, to create an eco-route for the endangered moths.
DZG Chief Executive Peter Suddock said: “The Barberry carpet moth is one of the Native Species programmes DZG?is involved in; others include Ladybird spiders, Great crested newts, Tadpole shrimps and Kerry spotted slugs.
“Co-operation and partnership is crucial to conservation programmes and we work closely with other wildlife organisations on these projects.
“They may not be as glamorous as tigers or orang utans to zoo visitors but these moths are just as important to the eco-system and thus deserve our acknowledgement and effort to ensure they are saved from extinction.”
CAPTIONS: The Barberry Carpet moth is found in only a handful of sites in the British Isles and has disappeared from much of its former range as its plant food, the native berberis (Berberis vulgaris) has been grubbed out through a supposed link to wheat rust disease.
BELOW: DZG Native Species Co-ordinator Ian Hughes.