Harpella forficella by Ross Newham

Harpella forficella by Ross Newham

A species of moth not previously seen in Kent and known only by its Latin name Harpella forficella has been discovered at Kent Wildlife Trust’s Holborough Marshes nature reserve, near Snodland. This striking cream and brown moth, native to Europe, was found by amateur naturalist and Trust volunteer, Ross Newham. Ross undertakes moth recording at a number of Trust reserves across West Kent, with all records helping to build up a detailed inventory of the species in the area. Using this information, conservation bodies can then study the biological records available to plan the management of sites.

After being caught and photographed, the sighting was confirmed by ecologist, Dr Marc Botham and Somerset-based moth expert David Agassiz; the moth then being released back at Holborough Marshes by Trust staff. Harpella forficella was first recorded in the UK in 2011 with two subsequent records in 2012. This record in Kent may therefore prove to be only the fourth occasion the species has been found in the UK.

“Kent Wildlife Trust is able to manage its 60 reserves across the county, thanks in no small part to the wonderful volunteers who contribute so much,” commented Chief Executive, John Bennett, adding, “There are so many ways to get involved – from an individual such as Ross being on reserves and recording the species present – through to organised groups undertaking habitat restoration work. This is all vital to the contribution Kent Wildlife Trust makes in looking after all species in the countryside for generations to come.”

Under all climate change scenarios currently being forecast, Kent is set to lose some species previously native to the county as their UK ranges shift northwards. However, with its proximity to the continent, Kent is also the county most likely to host new species that arrive – making the maintenance of a network of healthy habitats across the county so vital in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Holborough Marshes is a 35-hectare reserve next to the River Medway, which has been subject to a recent recovery plan to restore the habitats previously lost. The reserve now boasts extensive marsh areas – important breeding areas for specialist wetland birds, such as lapwing and snipe.

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