Why Moths?

The Diversity of Moths

The Variety of Moths in North Antrim & Beyond
The wooded Glens of Antrim are very important for many moth species, including several rare species
The wooded Glens of Antrim are very important for many moth species, including several rare species
According to the Lepidoptera Society 87% of the approximately 150,000 species of Lepidoptera world-wide are moths. In the Ireland the ratio moths to butterflies is even more pronounced with only 35 species of butterflies and approximately 1,500 species of moths, with more being added most years. With such numbers comes a wealth of variety in size, shape, colour and ways of life.

As a result of North Antrim’s northerly latitude we don’t get to experience this diversity in full, but the region is still home to a wide range of moth species, which continues to be added to, as research allows us to better understand the true distribution of our moths. As well as latitude, and the influence this has on the climate, the diversity of moths is very much determined by the range and quality of habitats. In general the greater the range of habitats and host plant species, the more moths species will be present, and greater the ecological health of those habitats the greater the abundance and diversity.

For its relatively small area, North Antrim has wide range of habitats suitable for supporting moths. Coastal cliffs, rocky shores, sand dunes and small areas of saltmarsh, form the northern and eastern boundaries. In the east of the region the land quickly rises to onto the Antrim Plateau to a high point of 551 metres (1,808 feet) with extensive areas of blanket bog and non-native conifer forest.

Coastal habitats which as Kinbane Head can be rich in moths and support many scarce species

The slopes of the plateau are incised by the famous Glens of Antrim, created by glaciers, which support oakwoods and ash woods depending on the underlying geology. The mix of basalts and limestones in the area also influence the range of grassland types in the area. Only small, scattered patches of species rich grasslands remain, with most “improved” with drainage, fertiliser added and reseeded with agricultural grasses.

On the western side of Antrim Plateau the slopes are gentle, at the base merging with the glacial plains of the Rivers Maine, Bush and Bann. This area was once dominated by woodlands and raised bogs, but only remnants now remain. Much of the area is now given over to intensive agriculture, in particular pastures for cattle grazing. Urbanisation is limited in the region and is largely in the western plain and around the coastal strip.

Some of the wide variety of moths can be seen in Larger and Smaller Moth of North Antrim Galleries - Larger Moths of North Antrim...

Emperor Moths in Flight Over Garry Bog
Emperor Moths in Flight Over Garry Bog