10th July 2007

The Palace of Westminster will be explored for bats and moths this evening (10 July), as part of annual surveys being held by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and Butterfly Conservation.

The Bat Conservation Trust is holding a bat survey with MPs in the palace to detect what species of bats may have take up residence in the prestigious buildings. Meanwhile Butterfly Conservation will be urging MPs to visit Speakers Garden in the Houses of Commons to inspect moths.

Madeline Moon, Labour MP for Bridgend, will join the two wildlife charities for the evening of bat detecting and moth catching. Ms Moon has arranged Tuesday's activities to raise awareness about the issues facing our native wildlife among her fellow MPs and the general public.

Mrs Moon said: "The world is losing biodiversity at an ever-increasing rate as the result of human activity. Moth and bat populations have decreased dramatically in the past few decades; therefore I hope that this event will help to raise the importance of this issue."

Mrs Moon and the team from the Bat Conservation Trust will be using bat detectors in the corridors and walkways outside the Palace to enable them to hear bats as they fly by.

There are 17 species of bats in the UK all of which are protected by law because their numbers have declined so dramatically in the past. The loss has largely been due to their roosts being disturbed or destroyed and a decline in the abundance of insects (such as moths) which are the sole source of food for UK bats.

Amy Coyte, Chief Executive of BCT, said: "The loss of natural bat roosts has meant that bats have increasingly been forced to live in buildings, from Palaces to barns. We're hoping the evening will highlight the plight of protected species and how we can all help bats wherever we live or work."

Similarly, last year's The State of Britain's Larger Moths highlighted worrying declines in Britain 's moth populations. Total numbers of moths in the UK have declined by a third over a 35-year period.

Mark Parsons, Butterfly Conservation's Head of Moth Conservation, said: "Moths are fascinating in their own right, but they are also an essential part of the food chain. Their declines will affect birds and bats, which rely on them for food."

"We intend to show MPs that moths play an important role in our countryside and can also be stunning and colourful. We hope to trap a range of summer species, including the impressive Lime Hawk-moth."

The opening of last year's House of Commons Moth trap revealed the Tree-lichen Beauty, until recently a scarce visitor to this country. These green and black moths have recently colonised the UK from Europe , probably as a result of climate change.

For further information: Jaime Eastham Bat Conservation Trust 0207 501 3635jeastham@bats.org.uk

Nerys Coward Butterfly Conservation 01929 406010 / 07834 787903 ncoward@butterfly-conservation.org