VIDEO: Mega moth invasion could see palm-sized creatures winging their way to our county
Britain is being invaded by massive palm-sized moths from the continent which are being carried over on warm winds – and they are attracted by tobacco and alcohol.
Moth-lovers are hoping to catch the massive Convolvulus Hawk-moth using ornamental tobacco plants, planted earlier this year, and wine soaked ropes.
With a 12cm wingspan, the moth is one of the largest moths found in Europe, yet it is capable of pin-point precision flight.
It hovers to drink nectar from deep tubular tobacco plant flowers using its amazingly long 7.5cm proboscis - tube-like mouth.
Arranged by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation, it is hoped that sightings of the giant insect across the county will help build a clear picture of moth migration into the UK on Moth Night.
With a tongue longer than its body, one way to attract the giant moth is by hanging ropes out soaked in alcohol, preferably wine, in a practice known as wine roping.
Another moth-attracting technique, known as sugaring, involves painting a mixture of sugar, syrup and beer onto a post or tree trunk.
Along with the Convolvulus Hawk-moth, 40 other species of immigrant moths have been spotted in the UK for the first time in 15 years, including the Black-Spotted Chestnut and Flame Brocade.
The apparent increase in migrant records could reveal important information about the effects of climate change on UK moth populations.
The Convolvulus Hawk-moth migrates from southern Europe with a few hundred spotted in the UK annually, mainly during late summer and early autumn.
Richard Fox, head of recording at Butterfly Conservation, said: “It has already been an amazing year for moth immigration and such activity usually peaks in early autumn.
“With migrants such as the massive Convolvulus Hawk-moth mixing with beautiful home-grown autumnal species.”
Have you spotted a Hawk-moth? Send us your pictures by emailing [email protected]