National Insect Week kicks off today until 24th June. You can find out more about it here. To celebrate we’re bringing you a fantastic blog from Mary Laing, a volunteer for Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms on her involvement in the project along with some beautiful photos she has taken.

Me and the Kentish Glory

Mary Laing, based in the Cainrgorms National Park, is relatively new to moth recording but has had a big impact in a short amount of time. Whilst also being a talented photographer and contributing important photos to the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms Project and its communications, she has also been key to better understand Kentish glory in Deeside. In 2018, Mary surveyed sixteen 1km square sites and found eight new sites for the species, collecting essential data as she did so. This blog is about how Mary came to be involved and her experience of working with Kentish glory (Endromis versicolora).

I retired to our old family home in Aberdeenshire in 2011 and started taking rather poor record shots of the birds and other wildlife in my garden, then butterflies and then moths, which I realised were just as beautiful. This surprised me as I’d always disliked them, to the extent of having my father remove them from the bedroom when I was a child! Then a friend offered to put out his moth trap in my garden in the summer of 2014 and I was hooked. In the spring of 2015 I had the amazing pleasure of catching a Kentish Glory in my own moth trap- what an astonishingly beautiful moth it is. I had never even heard of it before and to realise how scarce it was made it even more of a privilege to see.

The following year I had two in the trap one night, and also located some others in the daytime on the moor near my house. It has been brilliant to learn more about this creature, to see and find egg clutches but even more to take part as a volunteer in the recent pheromone trials to help try and map the extent of the local colonies. Last year was mostly verifying that the pheromones themselves were working properly but this year some of us were allocated one kilometre Ordnance Survey squares that were next to known Kentish Glory sites. I thought that three squares would be enough for me but ended up checking quite a number more as I enjoy a quest!

This year turned out to be a good one for the Kentish Glory- I had one female and three very different males in my moth trap and found males coming to the pheromones in 12 new OS squares. There were some areas of good habitat where I didn’t find them but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, just that they didn’t appear, so next year I’m hoping to try those places again as soon as I know they’re flying. It has been good fun looking for these delightful moths, especially with the purpose of expanding knowledge of their whereabouts. The hope is that knowing exactly where they are will help with conservation of their habitat.