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Individual study: Turf stripping restores belted beauty Lycia zonaria habitat at Meols Common, Merseyside, England; translocation experiments at Kinmel Dunes, Conwy, Wales.

Published source details

Howe M.A., Hinde D., Bennett D. & Palmer S. (2004) The conservation of the belted beauty Lycia zonaria britannica (Lepidoptera, Geometridae) in the United Kingdom. Journal of Insect Conservation, 8, 159-166


The belted beauty moth Lycia zonaria lives in dry coastal grassland. In England and Wales, it is restricted to three small remnant populations and threatened by coastal development and coastal protection activity. The species has wingless females, which cannot disperse far. The larvae feed on herbs such as bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus, usually in sparse, early successional grassland with patches of bare sand where it pupates. This paper describes efforts to restore habitat for the belted beauty at Meols Common, Merseyside, England and to translocate the moth from Morfa Conwy, Caernarvonshire to Kinmel Dunes Local Nature Reserve, Conwy, Wales.

At Meols Common, a 4 x 3 m plot of densely covered grassland was treated with 30 gallons of seawater in October 2001, to emulate a storm surge.

In winter 2000-2001, one 15 x 10 m plot of dense, well established grassland was stripped of turf and soil, down to bare sand. Another 15 x 10 m plot was heavily cut and raked. Both plots were left to naturally re-vegetate. In April 2002, three egg batches and 33 (cut and raked plot) or 43 (stripped plot) larvae were introduced to each plot.
In spring 2002 and 2003, egg batches from females caught wild at Morfa Conway were captive-reared on bird’s-foot trefoil and released at 22 sites in Kinmel Dunes (21.5 km to the east) in late May. By 2003, 2,030 third or fourth instars had been released altogether.

Treatment with seawater had little impact on the suitability of dune grassland for belted beauty, although two females were found on the treated plot in spring 2002.

The stripped plot developed low herb-rich vegetation mixed with bare sand over the following two years. In April 2003, seven adult females and one male were present in the stripped plot.
The cut and raked plot initially developed suitable vegetation, but by 2003 had more dense vegetation and no adult belted beauties were found in 2003. Future conservation work is focussed on turf stripping.
Searches on Kinmel Dunes found no emerging adults in spring 2003, but the translocation project continued.
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