While many would overlook the importance of the humble moth, they are a great indicator of the state of the wider ecosystem. Knowing exactly which moths are on site helps us to find out what we are doing well but also how we could improve the environment.
On Monday 1 May, I helped David Brown, the official Warwickshire moth recorder, set some moth traps in the orchard and woodland at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. I had met David previously when he had given a talk at a nature reserve and have been keen to get him in to survey our sites ever since.
We returned to the property on Tuesday 2 May and we had some interesting results.
Overall, we found 17 different species of moths, two of the species we discovered are nationally scarce.
We found a single Pinion Spotted Pug moth, which is classed as a Nationally Scarce B (meaning if Great Britain were divided into squares of ten kilometers, this moth would only be found in 31-100 of those squares). This moth only lives in southern England, so it was a good find.
However, the moth we were really looking for was the Silver Cloud, which is classed as Nationally Scarce A (meaning it would only be found in 16-30 of those ten-kilometre squares). This moth is only found in a small area around the Severn Valley, so has a very particular habitat requirements.
Amazingly, for a moth which is so rare, this was the most abundant moth at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, and we found a total of 10 Silver Clouds between the two traps.
What was also wonderful is that no other site in Warwickshire has ever recorded so many Silver Cloud moths on a single night - the previous highest tally was 7 in 2020 at Bidford-on-Avon, which means we have set a new Warwickshire record for numbers of this rare and beautiful moth.
After identifying and counting the moths, they were all safely released back onto the site. And if you’re worrying about how these moths might affect our collections – don’t. The two moths which cause damage to textiles, and are commonly found in the UK, are the common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the case-bearing clothes moth (Tinea pellionella). They only live indoors so any moth which likes the outdoors aren't a threat to textiles.
David will be coming back to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage later in the year to do another audit. It has been a fantastic start to this project and a real sign that our attempts at encouraging a wide range of biodiversity onto our sites is being successful.
To find out more about how the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is becoming more sustainable and encouraging biodiversity at Shakespeare's Family Homes visit our Sustainable Shakespeare page.