Essex Emerald Moth
On Saturday Sally and I went to Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve – not to see the Bittern that had been reported but to have a look at the insect collection in the museum at the Visitor Centre. I was hoping that it would contain some gall wasps or parasitic wasps but sadly, for me, it was mainly Lepidoptera. However I did find some mounted specimens of the Essex Emerald Moth (they are specimens reared from caterpillars by S. Wakely in Essex in ?1930’s). As you can see this is a really beautiful moth and this was the first time I had seen one! Some of you might remember that I used to carry out surveys for the RSPB at the Elmley Reserve on Sheppey. One of my target species was the ground lackey moth. This we found in large numbers on the saltmarsh at the far end of the reserve at Spitend. However, while on the saltmarsh I always used to keep a eye open for the caterpillars of the Essex Emerald. These feed on the upper saltmarsh exclusively on Artemisa (Seriphidium) maritimum
– Sea Wormwood. However I never really had much hope of seeing one as the Essex Emerald moth has been extinct since the 1980’s! The shore at Spitend was the last known site for this species in the wild. The moth was maintained in captivity for a few years but this colony eventually failed. Bob Gomes, the RSPB warden at the time, retired recently and when I last met him he was really saddened to relate that he was the last person to see this moth in the wild. Whenever I go to that part of Sheppey at the right season I always take a quick look at the Sea Wormwood – just in case. Hoping may not be enough – but it is all I can do.