Borough braced for Euro final moth invasion

Nocturnal insects that plagued players and fans during this summer's Euro football finals have now descended en masse in Wigan!

Sunday, 9th October 2016, 3:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 4:28 pm
Cristiano Ronaldo attacked by a moth in this summer's European Championship final

Wildlife experts say that silver Y moths can now be seen in profusion in borough gardens and nature reserves.

They gained a certain notoriety at July’s Paris final when Portugal and France did battle in a lepidoptric blizzard because the Stade de France floodlights had been left on the night before.

But Wigan and Leigh residents should not be worried: the insects are perfectly harmless.

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Silver Y moth

Mark Champion, Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s project manager for Wigan, has been thrilled to see their arrival and is particularly fascinated as to how they got here in the first place, spending much of the rest of the year as they do in the Mediterranean area and North Africa.

He said: “This week has seen a large number of the migrant silver Y moths in gardens and on the nature reserves of Wigan.

“This exciting happening is due to the silver Y having special abilities to migrate in both the spring and the autumn.

“In the past, moth migration has been assumed to involve hitching a ride in favourable winds, but this is not the case with silver Y moths: they only migrate on nights when favorable winds would displace them southward, as they are able to actively detect their direction of movement while airborne using a magnetic sense.

Silver Y moth

“Their autumn migration is a persistent, southward movement that takes the moth from a habitat lacking one resource, such as food, to another, more favorable location.

“Earlier in the year, during their northward migration, many of the moth’s behaviours such as feeding and breeding are temporarily suppressed. In these insects, the distances travelled can exceed 3,000km. Migration in silver Y moths does not involve return trips by the same individuals.”