14 Oct 2009

Open University's iSpot website identifies moth never seen before in UK

Euonymus leaf notcher moth

Euonymus leaf notcher moth

On 6 October, a photo of an unusual looking moth was posted onto iSpot, the OU’s website to help anyone identify plants and wildlife. The OU identified it as being the Euonymus Leaf Notcher moth - never seen in the UK before.

Within 24 hours of it being identified on iSpot, the species was also confirmed by Martin Honey, Curator in the Department of Entomology at the Natural History Museum, and an expert in Taiwan. The Natural History Museum will take the moth into their collection this week.

Martin Harvey, a researcher at the OU’s Biodiversity Observatory, who identified the moth on iSpot, says: ‘this find demonstrates the power of the internet, and iSpot in particular, in helping everyone learn about wildlife. It may just be a one-off, or it could be harbinger of establishment in the UK. The moth is regarded as a something of pest in America and Asia, but its food plants are restricted to ornamental shrubs.’

The furry moth was found by six year old Katie Dobbins from Berkshire and her father posted the photo on iSpot ( iSpot is a new OU website to post images to help name the flower, plant, insect or animal seen and share observations with others. Pictures uploaded to iSpot will be identified by the iSpotters community, including OU biodiversity experts like Martin Harvey.

The OU has a new introductory course, Neighbourhood Nature, which combines theory and practice and includes iSpot as a field based activity. The course will help students on a natural history journey working in conjunction with OPAL project partners, a raft of regional and local community groups including the Woodland Trust to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds who have knowledge of local public open spaces.



iSpot is funded by The Big Lottery Fund’s £11.7 million grant to OPAL (Open Air Laboratories: in which the OU is a partner.

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