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Moth populations in steady decline in Britain, study finds

A long running study shows the 1976 heatwave boom has been followed dropping numbers in moth numbers across the UK. They are declining at a rate of 10% each decade in the UK but the average weight of each moth is double what it was in 1967.

Researchers studying the biomass of moths caught in the world’s longest-running insect study said there findings suggested there had almost been an ‘Insect Armageddon’ in the UK before the study started in 1967.

Rather than it being a steady decline, scientists at the University of York found that moth populations has boomed since the 1976 heatwave, however, after 1982 there has been a steady decline.

“It’s absolutely not the case that everything is fine,” said Dr Callum Macgregor. “We do know that insects are in long-term decline as a whole, and also that the majority of insect species are declining.

“The concerning thing about the decline is that it’s over a 35-year period and there’s no real sign that that long-term declining trend is reversing.

“Having said that, the implication of a phrase like ‘insect Armageddon’ is that it’s an end-of-days scenario and it’s almost hopeless, and I don’t think it is hopeless. There is still time and opportunity for us to turn things around and make positive changes in the way we use our land.”

Biomass of the moths was measured as it is an important signal as to the quantity of moths about and also their ability to pollinate plants and provide food for birds, bats and small mammals.

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