In the United Kingdom there are at least 2,500 species of moth. Most of these species are suffering a decline in numbers or are becoming extinct. The problem with the decline in moth numbers is not only a problem for the different species of moths; it will also be a problem for the numbers of bats, birds and mammals that use moths as a source of food. So, what can we do to help preserve our moth numbers for our future generations to enjoy?
Contrary to popular belief, although the majority of moths are nocturnal, being active all night and sleeping during the day, some aren’t. There are some species that are diurnal, so are active during the day and sleeping at night, and others are crepuscular – or active at twilight. Moths, like butterflies, need nectar to feed on, and a suitable a habitat, so if we want to increase the moth numbers, we need to ensure we grow the right moth friendly plants. This includes night or evening scented flowers and shrubs.
There are also other things we can do, that don’t take much effort but will help ensure they have the right environment.
Don’t use insecticides or pesticides. They kill many pollinating insects. If possible, go organic, or at the very least, limit your use of chemicals.
Deadheading flowers regularly will help prolong the flowering periods of most plants. This, in turn, will prolong the nectar supply for moths. Also, keep your plants well watered, as this will help the health of the plant and encourage more growth, more flowers and more nectar.
Don’t overwork your garden. Moths like fallen leaves, plant debris and anything similar to hide from predators. So, ideally put off pruning plants until the spring. You could always hide dead leaves etc behind sheds or hidden at the back of borders to keep your garden looking nice, whilst helping the moths.
They also like weeds and long grass, so if you can, leave an area wild and unkempt.
Collecting rotting fruit in a net bag and suspending it in your garden is another way of attracting moths, as they are attracted by the scent from the fruit!
You can also attract moths by ‘sugaring’. This involves making a sticky mixture from beer, sugar and dark treacle. You can then paint this on various surfaces, including fence posts and tree trunks. This is particularly good for later in the summer, when the natural nectar sources are coming to a natural end.