Did you know in the U.K alone there is 2,500 different species of moths. And in the last 100 years they have become one of the most threatened wildlife groups, with nearly 70 species becoming extinct, that’s 5 species of butterflies and 65 species of moths.
While the common clothes/carpet moths and food moths are a nuisance at best, moths overall are fantastic creatures that are vital to our ecosystems. They are a major food source for many different species of wild life from spiders and bats to hedgehogs and toads. And like a canary in a coal mine, they are a good indicator of problems with in our environment from pesticide use to farming practices and global warming. Below is a list of a few things that show their value to our ecosystem.
- Butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems.
- They indicate a wide range of other invertebrates, which comprise over two-thirds of all species.
- Areas rich in butterflies and moths are rich in other invertebrates. These collectively provide a wide range of environmental benefits, including pollination and natural pest control.
- Moths and butterflies are an important element of the food chain and are prey for birds, bats and other insectivorous animals (for example, in Britain and Ireland, Blue Tits eat an estimated 50 billion moth caterpillars each year).
- Butterflies and moths support a range of other predators and parasites, many of which are specific to individual species, or groups of species.
- Butterflies have been widely used by ecologists as model organisms to study the impact of habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change.