A camouflaged species of micro moth has been announced by the National Trust as the first of its kind to be found in Northern Ireland, likely reaching the North coast by being buffeted by strong winds across the Irish Sea.
The 5mm white-speckled smoke micro moth (Narycia duplicella) baffled experts when it was spotted in staff offices next door to the Giant’s Causeway.
A member of the bagworm family, the caterpillars weave a protective case of silk and attach material from their immediate surroundings to create near perfect camouflage, making them almost imperceptible to the naked eye.
Its life cycle from egg to flying moth is usually a year and the caterpillar pupates for a month, usually in May, before emerging as a minute moth.
It is the first of its kind to be discovered on the island of Ireland and it was discovered by eagle eyed Dr Cliff Henry, area ranger for the National Trust, on the wall of his office at Innisfree Farm, next door to the Giant’s Causeway, last month.
He said: “Few other insects can match moths for disguise. I only spotted it when a speck of green on a clean part of the wall caught my eye. When I took a closer I look I realised the speck was moving! A tiny 4mm caterpillar was hauling its little camouflaged house up the wall.
“These micro moths are normally found on a tree trunk or fence. Our office wall is the perfect spot for them as it’s shaded, north facing, and has the right lichen and algae that they feed on.
“The caterpillar emerged from eggs laid by its mum earlier this year. It’s incredible to think that these moths could have travelled – assisted by the wind – 15 miles or more across the sea from Scotland to arrive on the Causeway Coast.”