Highlands & Islands

'Fake females' to aid rare moth work in Cairngorms

Kentish glory moth Image copyright Tom Prescott
Image caption Despite its name the Kentish glory is only found in the UK in north east Scotland

Conservationists are to coat pieces of rubber with the scent of female moths as part of a survey of a rare species in the Cairngorms.

In the UK, the Kentish glory is only found in north east Scotland.

Their fast flight makes the species hard to identify so conservationists are to lure males to the "fake female", which will be placed on trees.

The Kentish glory is one of six of Scotland's rarest insects to be targeted in a new conservation project.

The others are the shining guest ant, dark bordered beauty moth, small scabious mining bee, northern silver-stiletto fly and pine hoverfly.

Small scabious mining bees can only be found in Scotland in the Cairngorms and feed exclusively on a plant known as devil's-bit scabious - so called because the roots come to an abrupt end "as if the devil had bitten them off".

Image copyright Stewart Taylor
Image caption A wood ant and the smaller shiny guest ant

Focused on the Cairngorms National Park, the new three-year conservation project involves RSPB Scotland, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the initiative will involve recruiting volunteers to help with survey work.

The surveys will help to establish the size and distribution of the species' populations, as well as guiding efforts to better protect them.

Image copyright Gus Jones
Image caption Small scabious mining bees are among the rare insects to be given greater protection

Gabrielle Flinn, of the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms Project, said: "The Cairngorms National Park is well known for its iconic species such as the capercaillie and wildcat, but it's also the last refuge for some of Scotland's rarest insects.

"For the next three years the project will be working to conserve some of these rare species spread across the parks key habitats, from aspen woodland to flower rich grasslands.

"We'll be relying on people in and around the park to lend a hand, so if you're passionate about the smaller things in life we'd love to hear from you."