Village nightlife has pupils in a flap

South Wales Guardian: NIGHT VISITOR: Youngsters from Saron School take a close look at an Elephant Hawk-moth - one of the 60 different species of moth found as part of their conservation project. NIGHT VISITOR: Youngsters from Saron School take a close look at an Elephant Hawk-moth - one of the 60 different species of moth found as part of their conservation project.

THE secret nightlife of an Amman Valley school was revealed recently as part of a conservation project.

Officers from Carmarthenshire County Council’s conservation section visited Saron School which has a nature area within its grounds, and a very keen nature group.

Officers set a moth trap overnight, and by the next morning 60 species of moth were identified numbering about 200 individual moths in the trap.

The bright light of the moth trap bulb attracts them from the surrounding habitats. They then fall in the trap and nestle amongst egg boxes placed in there.

The pupils were shown the moths and found out more about them and why they are an important part of the natural environment.

Most moth species are only active at night and come in a range of sizes, shapes and colours.

Many have camouflage to help them hide from predators, others are brightly coloured like the tiger moths and hawk-moths.

Pupils had a chance to see all the moths and even handle some like the elephant hawk-moth.

Biodiversity officer Isabel Macho said that moths were closely linked with plants, and moth caterpillars depended on plants for food.

Different types of caterpillars eat different plants and even different parts of the plants. The 60 species of moth found at Saron shows that the school’s nature area and surrounding area have good habitats – which will be good for other species not just moths.

Many birds rely on moth caterpillars for food, especially for feeding their chicks. Night-flying moths are also a vital food source for bats.

Ms Macho added: “Moth numbers are falling and some moths that used to be found in most gardens every year are now seen only occasionally. The enthusiasm of the pupils here and the wonderful nature area they have is inspiring .”

Gwenda Easton from Saron school said: "What a truly amazing experience! It is so heartening to have evidence that our conservation area is attracting such a diverse collection of moths.

“The experience and opportunity of studying these at close range was inspirational for all our staff and pupils".

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