Researchers Rediscover Rare Butterfly Species After 86 Years

The mountain frost moth is nocturnal and is only known from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. The species was last sighted in 1937. Researchers have now embarked on a search for the butterfly.

Researchers Rediscover Rare Butterfly Species After 86 Years

After 86 years, butterfly researchers have rediscovered a rare species of butterfly in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The so-called mountain steppe frost moth is only known from a few mountains in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, according to the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe. The nocturnal butterfly was previously found in today’s Bosnia-Herzegovina three times in the first half of the 20th century, most recently in 1937. In Montenegro, it was detected once, around 40 years ago. There were therefore concerns that the species could be extinct.

Lignyoptera thaumastaria live above the tree line and only appear after the first snow has fallen and thawed again, according to the press release. According to the museum, the wings of the males are strikingly yellow and pink in color, while the flightless females are almost wingless.

At the end of October, an international group of volunteer and full-time butterfly researchers from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, and Germany set out to search for the butterfly in Bosnia. According to the museum, they found both females and males of the rare butterfly species there on the very first night. The experts searched the Vlašić mountain massif near Travnik above the tree line at altitudes between 1550 and 1750 meters from dusk onwards, they say. From midnight onwards, they found individual males of the species at various altitudes. In the early hours of the morning, they were able to observe more moths. Finally, the researchers also spotted a few females.

According to the museum, the fact that the females are unable to fly could be one reason why they survive strong autumn storms in the mountainous regions of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. “This means that the animals, which are important for reproduction, are not blown away from their habitat,” the press release states. The species is also hardly attracted to artificial light. This is different for most other moth species.