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A Barberry carpet moth.

Celebrating National Insect Week...

23rd June 2014

A Barberry carpet moth.

Dudley Zoological Gardens is buzzing as we celebrate National Insect Week.

And we’re also marking 21 years since we began our conservation work with the Barberry carpet moth - one of Britain’s rarest and most threatened moth species.

Since 1993 we’ve helped boost the numbers of Barberry carpet moths by breeding and releasing thousands into the wild.

Led by our Native Species co-ordinator, Ian Hughes and in association with Chester and Twycross zoos, we’re also continuing to maintain the moth’s primary food, the barberry plant. Horticulturists are currently growing the spiky plants for planting along Shropshire Union canal towpaths, linking the three zoos in a Barberry Highway!

Native Species co-ordinator, Ian Hughes, said: " The Barberry carpet moth was restricted to a single known site in the British Isles when we began working with it in 1993 - a hedgerow in Suffolk. The hedge subsequently suffered a fire and the population was wiped out.

"Fortunately, in the meantime, field ecologists had managed to find a scattering of populations in Wiltshire, Dorset and Oxfordshire and led by DZG, moths bred at several BIAZA zoos were introduced to four new sites.

"Following our request for assistance to help the moth, we have managed to maintain a captive population ever since and have provided several thousand caterpillars to introduction sites across the UK.

"The ongoing Barberry Highway programme involves use of a canal workboat and a chaingang of gardeners and volunteers working along the paths through Chester City and beyond towards the ancient earldom of Dudley and is a heart-warming experience of camaraderie in the face of threatened extinction."

We’ve also worked hard to help boost the ladybird spider population, which were once thought to be extinct in England, by breeding them here in Dudley and relocating them to suitable habitats across the country as well as co-ordinating a multi zoo campaign to ensure the survival of the fens raft spider, one of the UK's rarest arachnids.

DZG Presenter Becky Iwahashi, said: “In the UK there are more than 24,000 species of insects and we can find them in almost every habitat. We can easily find hundreds at home in our gardens, so it’s just as important to care for them as it is for the larger, more popular animals we have at DZG.

“We have a few of the more unusual insects on show in the Discovery Centre, including black beauty stick insects and hissing cockroaches and visitors can also find out more about National Insect Week by checking out our display.”

The national campaign is organised by the Royal Entomological Society and runs from June 23 – 29.

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