A NATIONALLY rare moth which has never before been spotted in Yorkshire has appeared in an unlikely location.

The White-spotted Black is so rare it hasn’t been seen in Britain since 2011.

But now experts have discovered it in the centre of York, at the Museum Gardens.

It was found as part of a three year study by students at Pennsylvania University working on placement at Shandy Hall in Coxwold, North Yorkshire. Their study includes comparing the populations of moths in rural North Yorkshire to the city centre of York.

Patrick Wildgust, curator of Shandy Hall, said: “It has been fantastic to find such a rare moth right in the city centre of York. The White-spotted Black is extremely scarce nationally – it appeared in Bedfordshire in 2011 but hasn’t appeared since.

“To say our project has found a new species for Yorkshire has a very satisfying ring to it and we are really grateful for the hard work of our student Bowen Chang who has spent many evenings trapping and releasing moths as part of the study. This moth might be just a speck, but it is a considerable one.”

The micro moth has a wing span of between 9mm and 12mm and was reported in 1828 as being scarce. Experts had to be called in to confirm it was the species in question.

Stuart Ogilvy, assistant curator of natural sciences at York Museums Trust, said: “We are made up to find a species living in our midst which has not been recorded in Yorkshire before.

“The gardens team have been working hard to make the space as friendly to wildlife as possible and it is great to welcome in experts to help us to catalogue the increasing number of creatures which call the gardens home.”

It is hoped the project will shed light on why moth numbers are declining nationally.