Clifden Nonpareil – back from the brink?
Sometimes referred to as the Blue Underwing, the Clifden Nonpareil is a very large and impressively beautiful, rare moth. This individual was photographed by Jon Cartwright when it obligingly turned up at his kitchen window, attracted by the lights, no doubt.
This species was thought to no longer be resident in Britain for many decades and had been declared as extinct in the UK. It was considered to be an immigrant, with only a handful of records each year, though it is possible that there was a small population in Dorset.
In recent years it has been increasing in numbers again and is now thought to be recolonising as a breeding species in some southern counties. It is a species normally associated with coastal areas and so for Jon to be able to observe and photograph it was very fortunate.
The ‘Nonpareil’ part of the name comes from the French for ‘without equal’. The blue underwing colouring (which can vary) made this large moth something of a ‘holy grail’ for moth collectors in the past.