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.

Sunday, 13th September 2015, 6:00 am
The Hawk-moth has a huge wing span and can hover over plants with precision to drink nectar

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.

The Hawk-moth has a huge wing span and can hover over plants with precision to drink nectar

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.

Palm-sized moths from the continent are being carried over on warm winds

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.”

What the moths look like with their wings in

Have you spotted a Hawk-moth? Send us your pictures by emailing [email protected]