Several species of Cotoneaster have escaped from Scottish gardens and become naturalised in the wild. These invasive non-native shrubs produce berries and are spread by birds.
One species of Cotoneaster is damaging the habitat of a rare moth on the Isle of Mull. The Slender Scotch Burnet moth Zygaena loti scotica is known from only 6-7 sites on Mull and Ulva and nowhere else in the UK. The Slender Scotch Burnet moth only flies during the day and inhabits low cliffs and grassy banks on or near the coast. It is usually restricted to slopes with a sunny, south-facing aspect, usually with underlying basalt rock where its caterpillars’ sole foodplant, bird’s-foot trefoil, grows in short, usually flower-rich vegetation, with some bare ground. This is particularly important as the adults require lots of nectar and the caterpillars bask on bare ground or rock to maintain their body temperature.
Near Kilninian, on the west coast of Mull, Cotoneaster has become well-established on the thin-soiled species-rich undercliffs and on the cliffs themselves. Since 2007 Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS) has been doing battle with the cotoneaster. This work has been greatly assisted by volunteers. Encouragingly, the moth was re-discovered at the site in 2013 after an absence of four years.
Coille Alba has now secured funding to work in partnership with BCS to progress this control programme over the next 3 years. We are undertaking this work with the help of local contractors and volunteers.
We are very grateful to Scottish Natural Heritage, Mull and Iona Community Trust and Landfill Communities Fund for funding.