News July 2023

40% of moths are endangered in Flanders

With almost 2,000 species, moths are a more species-rich but much less known and therefore less studied insect group than diurnal butterflies, of which only about 75 species occur in Flanders. Moths are an ecologically very important insect group as bulk food for birds and bats, for example, as well as nocturnal pollinators. In recent decades, citizen scientists collected more and more data on the distribution of moths, mostly using light traps. Such traps use UV light that attracts moths that then enter the trap. At dawn, the light trap is checked, all species are named and released.

Using data from the many volunteer 'moth catchers', some researchers from Natuurpunt Studie, INBO, the Vlaamse Vlinderwerkgroep and the  Vlaamse Vereniging voor Entomologie recently compiled a first Red List of moths in Flanders (Veraghtert et al. 2023).

A comparison of the current distribution (2013-2022) with that from 1980-2012 revealed that no less than 40 per cent of the 717 species surveyed are more or less threatened or have already disappeared from Flanders: 39 species are regionally extinct, 41 critically endangered, 82 threatened and 42 species vulnerable. In addition, another 84 species are nearly endangered and 393 species are not currently endangered. For 36 species, insufficient data are currently available to determine a Red List status. Especially typical species of nutrient-poor and/or wet biotopes such as moors and bogs are in the worst shape.

Dirk Maes (INBO) & Wim Veraghtert (Natuurpunt Studie)

Read the report (Dutch, with English abstract): Veraghtert W, Maes D, Sierens T, Herremans M, Merckx T, Wullaert S, Vantieghem P & Swinnen KRR. (2023). Rode Lijst van de macro-nachtvlinders in Vlaanderen 2023. Rapporten van het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek 2023 (6). Brussel: Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek.

Image: Endromis versicolora, an endangered species of heathlands (Shutterstock)


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