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Camouflaged creature discovered in Ireland for first time by park visitor, photo shows

While visiting a national park in Ireland, a man captured a small, camouflaged animal. It turned out to be the country’s first record of the species, according to wildlife officials.

Stephen Cotter is a wildlife enthusiast and regular visitor to Killarney National Park, the park said in a Nov. 24 Facebook post. He often visits early in the morning or late at night to search for moths.

During a visit to the park in late August, Cotter captured a small, brownish-gray moth, he wrote in a Nov. 9 Facebook post. Something about the moth’s size caught his attention.

It turned out to be a Scoparia ancipitella, or Northern grey moth, and the first time the species was found in Ireland, park officials said.

A photo shows the speckled moth. Its coloring is “perfect for camouflaging against tree trunks during the day,” the park said.

Just had confirmed a "New to the Irish List" from Oakwoods Killarney on 27/08/2023: Scoparia ancipitella. Gen Det'ed to confirm. A species not previously recorded in Ireland but no doubt over looked.

Posted by Stephen Cotter on Thursday, November 9, 2023

“People may not appreciate the incredible moth diversity we have in Ireland,” Cotter told park officials. “We have over 1,500 different species and new species are being recorded every year by a small but dedicated network of so-called moth-ers!”

Earlier this year, Cotter found another rare species of moth, a white prominent Leucodonta, that was once considered locally extinct, the park said.

“The fact that enthusiasts and Conservation Rangers are still finding new species is a sign of the richness of our moth fauna,” the park wrote on Facebook.

Cotter did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ Nov. 27 request for comment.

Killarney National Park is about 160 miles southwest of Dublin.

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