Little and late: How reduced hedgerow cutting can benefit Lepidoptera

  • Published source details Staley J.T., Botham M.S., Chapman R.E., Amy S.R., Heard M.S., Hulmes L., Savage J. & Pywell R.F. (2016) Little and late: How reduced hedgerow cutting can benefit Lepidoptera. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 224, 22-28.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (e.g. no spray, gap-filling and laying)

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (e.g. no spray, gap-filling and laying)

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 2010–2013 on five farms in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Devon, UK (Staley et al. 2016, same experimental set-up as Staley et al. 2018) found that hedges which were cut in autumn, or once every three years, had a higher abundance of moth caterpillars and pupae than hedges cut in winter or every year, and hedges cut to allow incremental growth had a greater species diversity but similar abundance of moth caterpillars and pupae to hedges cut to a standard size. Over three years, the total abundance of caterpillars and pupae on hedges cut in winter (8–12 individuals/plot) was higher than on hedges cut in autumn (6–10 individuals/plot), and the abundance on hedges cut once every three years was higher than on hedges cut annually (data used in analysis not presented). The diversity of species on hedges cut to allow incremental growth was greater than on hedges cut to a standard size (data presented as statistical result), but abundance was similar (incremental: 7–12 individuals/plot; standard: 6–10 individuals/plot). See paper for further details. In January–February 2010, three 260-m-long hedges on each of five farms were cut. From September 2010, each hedge was divided into twelve 20-m sections, to which each combination of three sets of management options were applied for three years: cut once every one, two or three years; cut in September or January/February; and cut to the same dimensions or with the cutting bar raised by 10 cm on each successive cut to allow incremental growth. In May 2011–2013, caterpillars and pupae were sampled by inserting guttering (2 m × 11.2 cm) through each hedge, 80 cm above ground, at 5, 10 and 15 m along each plot, and beating the vegetation. Caterpillars and pupae were reared until emerging adults could be identified.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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