Lloyd Center survey finds six moth species new to Cuttyhunk

Sep 18, 2019

A moth survey conducted on Cuttyhunk Island in late August by the Lloyd Center for the Environment has found six species that are new to Cuttyhunk, and three that are new to the Elizabeth Islands overall. 

According to Lloyd Center Research Associate Jamie Bogart, scientists set up a light trap on a protected Cuttyhunk beach over one night in August as part of a project focusing on moths and butterflies in dune habitats.

From this one trap night 26 species were documented, including the species new to the islands.

Among these are the “Coastal Heathland Cutworm,” which thrives on open coastal habitats and is listed as a species of Special Concern, and the “Pink Streak,” which is listed as Threatened.

Both species are vulnerable to habitat loss.

Since 1988, the Lloyd Center has surveyed moths on the Elizabeth Islands, setting UV light traps on the islands of Pasque, Naushon, Nashawena and Cuttyhunk.

Between 1988 and 2015, the highest number of species by far was caught on Naushon (240) with the rest distributed between Pasque (88), Nashawena (36), and Cuttyhunk (24) islands.

In the last few years, surveys were conducted from August to October on Cuttyhunk Island.

Cuttyhunk is accessible by ferry and has a rich variety of habitat which may contain more species than have been detected thus far.

Types of habitat on the island include wetlands, forested area, grassland, and barrier beach.

Butterflies found on the island over the past few years include species such as Wood Nymph, American Copper, Cloudless Sulfur, and Buckeye.