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Dec 1, 2008

Fisher's Estuarine Moth

Fisher's Estuarine Moth from Colchester Zoo

Participation in a captive Breeding and release Programme for the fisher’s estuarine moth Gortyna borelii lunata

The Fisher’s Estuarine Moth is a British species of high conservation priority; it is legally protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, is listed within the British Red Data Book and is the subject of an Essex BAP (Appendix I).

The moth has a very restricted UK distribution and its main stronghold is the Walton Backwaters area of the North Essex coast (Appendix II). Here, it is found within low-lying areas of coastal grassland that support the threatened Hog’s Fennel (Peucedanum officinale), its sole caterpillar food plant. The main sites where the moth is found are at risk of inundation by the sea and it is predicted that this threat will become ever more severe as a consequence of sea-level rise.

Following extensive conservation work, nineteen new Hog’s Fennel sites have been created within the vicinity of the north Essex coast (Appendix III). When habitat conditions are suitable, it will be necessary to establish Fisher’s Estuarine Moths at these newly-created sites. The species tends to be very sedentary, so it is unlikely that it will readily colonise new sites naturally.

Naturally occurring populations are also relatively small and vulnerable and cannot be relied upon as donor sites to provide stock for the introductions. Colchester Zoo has therefore set up a captive breeding programme to provide a readily available supply of Fisher’s Estuarine Moths for introduction at the newly-created sites. This is essential in ensuring the success and sustainability of the conservation programme for the species. 

Developed by:  Colchester Zoo

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