Moth flies into the history books as three millionth species record in Leicestershire

The earliest records on the database date back to 1414-1415

A moth on a piece of white material

A tiny moth has made history – by becoming the three millionth record to be added to the database of species in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The Axylia putris moth – commonly known as a Flame moth – was spotted near Stathern Bridge on the Grantham Canal and submitted to the Leicestershire and Rutland Environmental Records Centre (LRERC), where it became the three millionth record added to its database.

Records on all types of flora and fauna found across Leicestershire and Rutland were first collated by Leicestershire Museums Service in the 1960s, with the LRERC created in the 1990s. The Leicestershire centre is one of a series of Environmental Records Centres across the UK.

The database contains records for more than 13,600 different species. They have been collated from a vast array of sources, including LRERC’s own work, the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, local naturalists, recording groups, members of the public, NatureSpot, national recording schemes and societies, online recording platforms, historical documents and planning applications.

The earliest records on the database are from 1414-1415 and relate to a fox and some ash trees at Grace Dieu Priory. They were taken from the Priory accounts of the time which mention the felling of the ash trees, and a report from the Priory shepherd of lambs being killed by foxes.

The moth which became the three millionth record was logged by a local moth recorder and submitted as part of an annual update of collated moth sightings, following a marathon moth recording session, which yielded almost 6,800 moths of 266 species.

The top ten most recorded species in Leicestershire and Rutland are:

  • Buzzard (bird) - 26,851 records
  • Small Tortoiseshell (butterfly) - 18,003 records
  • Mallard (bird) - 17,876 records
  • Common Pipistrelle (bat) – 17,053 records
  • Mute Swan (bird) – 16,903 records
  • Kestrel (bird) – 16,244 records
  • Peacock (butterfly) – 16,082 records
  • Small White (butterfly) – 15,272 records
  • Chiffchaff (bird) – 15,164 records
  • Sparrowhawk (bird) – 15,134 records

The records form a unique archive which is used to support research, identify the changes in habitats and land use over time and monitor the location and spread of plant, bird, insect and animal species. They are also used to help inform policies such as local environmental strategies, and help to access funding for improving the natural world.

The Leicestershire and Rutland species record is an invaluable archive which allows us to see how habitats and populations change over time, showing us the species which have grown and those which have declined.

It allows us to build up a picture of biodiversity across Leicestershire and Rutland, helping us to learn more about our environment and how it’s changing, and showing us where we need to target our resources to help improve biodiversity and support nature.

We are incredibly grateful to the huge number of organisations, groups and individuals who have contributed to this ever-growing record, and would encourage people to get involved by submitting details of species they have spotted.

Anyone who would like to submit a record is asked to email it to LRERC@leics.gov.uk. The submission should include as much information as possible, including what was spotted, when, where and who spotted it. Please include a photograph, if possible, as it helps with the verification of records.

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