Rare moth with huge wingspan spotted in Exeter

The moth, which was once thought to have been extinct, has been spotted in Exeter. Credit: Devon Live

An incredibly rare moth, which was once thought to have been extinct in Great Britain, has been spotted in Exeter. 

The 'Clifden nonpareil' was seen by zoologist graduate Will Haigh while he was on a break at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

Unlike other moths, this particular species has a wingspan that can reach almost 12cm and a bright blue stripe across its wings which is why some people call it the 'Blue Underwing'.

The moth is thought to have disappeared from the British Isles from the 1960s. Credit: Devon Live

They were thought to have disappeared from the British Isles from the 1960s onwards, but have started to reappear and are mostly seen in the south of the country. Will was quick enough to take these photos of the insect on his hand. 

It is not just a moth! The wing span can easily reach 10cm. I have a zoology degree and am currently part way through my biodiversity and conservation MSc and I'm particularly interested in insects, hence my excitement and how I know about this incredible moth.

Will Haigh

"They are very rare," he added.

"They went extinct as a breeding species in the UK during the 20th Century and only really appeared as migrants from Europe."


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